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MLB free agency: Orioles interested in Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb

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Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb are two intriguing options as the Orioles look to piece together a rotation for 2018.

St Louis Cardinals v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

The Orioles have interest in free-agent right-handed starting pitchers Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn, as MLB.com’s Jon Morosi reported on Saturday. Morosi writes that Baltimore has a “slight preference” for Cobb due to his experience pitching in the AL East with the Rays.

Baltimore only returns two experienced starters—albeit their two best ones in 2017, Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman—with Jeremy Hellickson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Chris Tillman, and Wade Miley hitting free agency this offseason. While guys like Alec Asher, Gabriel Ynoa, Tanner Scott, and Chris Lee could perhaps push for rotation spots next spring, it’s likely that the Orioles will need to add at least two veteran starters just to have enough depth heading into 2018.

The Cubs and Yankees are believed to be the favorites to sign Cobb at this point, but with all those veteran starters plus Welington Castillo and J.J. Hardy coming off the books this offseason, Baltimore has quite a bit of available cash to spend and may be able to make a competitive offer for the 30-year-old starter. Cobb might not be the greatest fit in Baltimore’s rotation since, like Bundy and Gausman, he’s a guy who historically has not gone very deep into games. That could put an unnecessary amount of stress on a Baltimore bullpen that saw Zach Britton and Darren O’Day miss extended time due to injuries in 2017.

With that said, Cobb had a strong 2017 season, posting a 3.66 ERA and 1.22 WHIP over 179.1 innings, and the fact that he knows the hitting tendencies of the AL East’s current top clubs, the Red Sox and Yankees, could be an added bonus.

Lynn, 30, is almost eerily similar to Cobb, as both spent 2017 working back from 2015 Tommy John surgeries and were not often afforded opportunities to pitch deep into games, both found their success through pitching to contact rather than striking hitters out (Lynn had 153 strikeouts in 186.1 innings, while Cobb struck out 128 batters in 179.1 frames), and both fell victim to baseball’s home run revolution, with Lynn giving up 27 homers and Cobb surrendering 22.

Lynn, who posted a 3.43 ERA and 1.23 WHIP in 2017, is perhaps a bit more risky due to the fact that he’s spent his entire career pitching in the National League, but for the most part, both he and Cobb are second-tier starters who would provide some much-needed stability to the Orioles’ rotation but for the most part are just as risky as guys like Hellickson and Miley were when they were acquired.