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Could Cobb be making last starts as a Ray?

Could Rays righty be moving inside the East?

Rays RHP Alex Cobb will be making his career-high 28th start of the season Saturday against the Red Sox. Back in 2014 before being sidelined with Tommy John surgery, Cobb made 27 starts and had arguably his best year as a pro. He went 10-9 that year with a 2.87 ERA in 166.1 innings. Fast forward to 2017 and he’s seeking his team-leading 12th victory against the first place Red Sox.

Could 2017 be his final in a Rays uniform? It’s been quite the journey for Cobb since breaking into MLB in 2011. From 2013-2014 he was one of the best in the American League. It seemed the Rays had the perfect definition of an ace. Then injury struck and he was out of baseball missing nearly two full seasons from 2015-2016.

Now, as the 2017 season winds down, it seems Cobb has regained a lot of what impressed so many in those seasons before Tommy John. Teams have noticed. Specifically teams within the American League East.

The East is interested.

Nick Cafarado of The Boston Globe told MLB Trade Rumors that the Blue Jays, Orioles, and Yankees could be interested in Cobb in the off-season. Turning 30 next month, Cobb would no doubt be a bargain for any of those teams. The Rays are paying him $4.2M this season and he’ll most likely be paid around the same next season no matter where he goes. With one more year of arbitration under Tampa Bay, he’ll be a free agent in 2018.

It’s unsure how the Rays rotation will look come Spring Training next year. With a lot of youth in the wings, the Rays may try to hold onto Cobb as the seasoned leader of what’s sure to be an even younger group in 2018. Could Chris Archer be dealt? What’s the future hold for Jake Odorizzi? It’s fair to think one or two of those names could be dealt even as soon as the Winter Meetings. If that’s the case, it might behoove the Rays to keep Cobb around at least one more season.

Time will tell. For now, the 2006 fourth-round pick by the Devil Rays seems happy where he is. He’s seemingly recovered nicely from his surgery and has been arguably the most consistent arm in the rotation. It’s been a while since the Rays have had a steady rotation. While it’s unlikely Archer, Cobb, Odorizzi will be together in 2018, it is very possibly Cobb could be the last man standing between them come Opening Day.

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