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MLB free agency: Brewers interested in Alex Cobb

Milwaukee and the free agent’s reps ‘have been in touch recently.’

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Boston Red Sox Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Brewers are looking at signing free-agent starter Alex Cobb, according to Jon Morosi of MLB Network.

Morosi says a source told him that the Brewers and Cobb’s representatives “have been in touch recently.” However, Morosi notes that Milwaukee’s division rival, the Cubs, are a favorite to land Cobb because of Cobb’s relationship with new pitching coach Jim Hickey. Cobb has also reportedly drawn interest from the Yankees and the Rangers.

Cobb, a 30-year-old righty, is coming off a season for the Rays in which he posted a 12-10 record with a 3.66 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP in 179 13 innings pitched — a career-high for him — across 29 starts. It was his first full campaign since 2014 after not having pitched a lot over the last two years. After having a 2013 season in which he went 11-3 with a 2.76 in 22 starts and a 2014 campaign in which he went 10-9 with a 2.87 ERA in 27 starts, Cobb never got to pitch in 2015 after he tore his UCL and had Tommy John surgery. Last season, he returned late in the year and went 1-2 with a 8.59 ERA and a 1.73 WHIP in 22 innings.

The Brewers have been trying to bolster their starting pitching all offseason. That’s because their anchor to their 2017 staff, Jimmy Nelson, is expected to miss “a chunk” of time in 2018 after undergoing labrum surgery on Sept. 20. In addition, they still have not figured out what Josh Hader’s role will be on the staff. Last season, Hader was effective out of the bullpen, as he posted a 2.08 ERA with 68 strikeouts in 47 2⁄3 innings pitched in 35 appearances after being called up to the majors in June.

So far, the Brewers have added Jhoulys Chadin and Yovani Gallardo to their staff this offseason. But, adding Cobb would give them a frontline starter to help them compete for a postseason spot after being eliminated from playoff contention in game No. 161 last year.