The Chicago Cubs officially added Jim Hickey as their new pitching coach, and there is some speculation that free agent pitcher Alex Cobb may soon follow. On Tuesday, the Chicago Cubs announced the hiring of Hickey to take on the role as the Cubs’ pitching coach, according to NBC Chicago. The Cubs are hoping to announce more news soon.
Prior to joining the Chicago Cubs, Jim Hickey was the pitching coach for the Tampa Bay Rays. Hickey has ties to Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon during their time together with the Tampa Bay Rays. Also with those ties is Alex Cobb.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the Cubs are interested in offering Alex Cobb an MLB free agency deal. There is some buzz going about that Alex Cobb has the Chicago Cubs on his radar as well.
NJ.com is reporting that Cobb has a short list of MLB teams including the Cubs and the New York Yankees that he is considering. The Cubs may have the inside track on signing Alex Cobb after locking up Jim Hickey to be their pitching coach.
Hickey’s relationship with Alex Cobb dates back to the Tampa Bay Rays’ free agent rookie season. Joe Maddon was the Rays’ manager at the time. Maddon gave Cobb his first opportunity to join the Rays’ rotation. Cobb has continued his development as a starter and is now one of the top pitchers in MLB free agency.
The Chicago Cubs have a decision to make regarding their own free agent pitcher, Jake Arrieta. However, Jake Arrieta may have priced himself out of the Cubs’ plans. Alex Cobb provides a solid fallback option if Arrieta does sign elsewhere.
According to NBC Sports, the Milwaukee Brewers are in the running to land Jake Arrieta. It would likely be a huge contract, as Arrieta is looking to cash in.
What the Cubs are unwilling to do is pay a high price on starting pitching. The Cubs have other holes to fill, including: middle relief help, a closer, and a couple of table-setters for their every day lineup. With at least four acquisitions on the Chicago Cubs’ agenda, money has to be allocated properly.
For the Chicago Cubs, adding Jim Hickey to the coaching staff appears to be a precursor for things to come. It could signal that Alex Cobb is on his way also. A combination of Hickey and Maddon involved in the recruitment process will help the Cubs as they attempt to land Cobb. There is one additional advantage the Cubs would have with Hickey and Maddon talking with Cobb.
The possibility of the Chicago Cubs convincing Alex Cobb to take slightly less in MLB free agency is an honest one. The idea of reuniting with Joe Maddon, while following Jim Hickey to Chicago is a bonus regarding contract negotiations. Cobb could essentially take less money than what the New York Yankees or any other MLB team would offer, simply because of the comfort zone he has.
There has not been a lot of movement in MLB free agency so far. That is expected to change soon. The Chicago Cubs could be one of the first teams to strike. Landing Alex Cobb, a starting pitcher, with 48 wins and a 3.50 ERA is a good first step.
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