The rebuilding Orioles have been looking to shed salary any way they can this offseason, which has included non-tendering productive infielders Hanser Alberto and Renato Nunez and trading away shortstop Jose Iglesias.
In their latest move, they managed to unload a particularly unproductive player and even got a decent prospect in return.
The Orioles traded Alex Cobb to the Angels in exchange for infield prospect Jahmai Jones in a deal that was finalized late Tuesday night. It’s the second trade between the two teams this offseason and the third in the last 14 months dating back to the Dylan Bundy trade.
The Orioles will reportedly pay more than half of the $15 million owed to Cobb in 2021. By doing so they essentially buy a prospect in Jones, who was the Angels No. 8 prospect.
Jahmai Jones, 2B/OF
A second-round pick out of a Georgia high school in 2015, Jones slowly climbed the minors and made his major league debut last season, going 3-for-7 over three games. He ranked as the Angels No. 8 prospect entering the 2021 season. Jones is a versatile athlete with a level, contact-oriented swing, solid strike-zone judgement and elite makeup characterized by strong leadership skills. The Angels moved him from center field to second base in 2018 and the transition was messy, but he’s worked himself into a playable defender at the keystone who can bounce out to left and center field as needed. Jones’ offensive performance has been up and down as the Angels tried to implement numerous swing changes, including an ill-fated attempt at introducing a launch angle swing, but he returned to form once they let him revert to his natural swing and stance in the second half of 2019. He has plenty of bat speed and is best when he focuses on lining the ball up the middle and the opposite way. Jones has a chance to be a versatile contributor who hits for average, posts high on-base percentages and approaches double-digit home runs if he keeps his best swing. He’s ready for a more extended look in the majors in 2021.
Alex Cobb, RHP
Cobb is a long way from his days as a solid member of the Rays rotation. He went 7-22, 5.10 with the Orioles the last three seasons after signing a four-year, $57 million contract and was unable to maintain any consistent success. While he was slightly better with a 4.30 ERA in 10 starts in 2020, he posted his highest walk rate since he was a rookie (3.6 BB/9) and largely beat up on bad teams—of his three best performances as measured by game score, two came against the last-place Red Sox and the other came against the Marlins in Miami’s second game back from its Covid-19 outbreak. Cobb’s 92-93 mph sinker is one of the least effective pitches of any regular starter in the major leagues—opponents hit .353 with a .588 slugging percentage against it last year—which often overshadows his excellent splitter. Angels manager Joe Maddon was Cobb’s manager in Tampa Bay, so the Angels are hoping the reunion will help bring out the best in Cobb. He will be pitching in front of a better infield defense and in a home park that is more forgiving on fly balls than he did in Baltimore, which are reasons for optimism. He slots in as the Angels No. 6 starter in their planned six-man rotation.