The Phillies have a hole in their rotation with Jerad Eickhoff injured, but they don’t plan on signing Alex Cobb to fill it.
The Phillies lost Jerad Eickhoff to a lat strain for six to eight weeks Friday. After signing Jake Arrieta they appeared to have a set rotation, but this injury puts the last spot in question again. Someone will eventually need to fill Eickhoff’s spot.
With veteran starter Alex Cobb still available in free agency, he is certainly an option. He would likely sign a contract similar to Lance Lynn’s one-year, $12 million deal with the Twins. This would definitely be within the team’s ideal price range and term length.
However, general manager Matt Klentak ruled out that possibility: [quote via Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia]
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"“I doubt it,” Klentak said when asked if he would look outside the organization to fill Eickhoff’s spot. “I don’t think we have to. I think a lot of our guys have shown very well in camp. They have gotten their pitch counts up, they’re getting to the point of being fully stretched out.”"
Instead, the competition appears re-opened to the players already with the team.
Ben Lively, Zach Eflin, Mark Leiter Jr., Jake Thompson, Tom Eshelman, and Drew Hutchinson came into spring training with a chance to secure the last spot in the rotation. Arrieta’s signing signaled the end of that competition; the fact that Lively surrendered his No. 49 to Arrieta only furthered that notion.
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Signing Cobb would likely be an upgrade over most of these options. He might not be ready for Opening Day this late into spring training, but they don’t need a fifth starter until April 11. That would give Cobb enough time to get loose and be ready for a full-game workload.
Since Philadelphia isn’t going to need that fifth starter for the first two weeks of the season, Klentak said the Opening Day roster could be unique:
"“There’s a decent chance we open the season with somewhat of a non-traditional 25-man roster, not because we’re trying to be cute but because we don’t need the fifth starter until the 11th,” Klentak said.“We’re going to do whatever puts us in the best position to win those first 10 days of the season.”"
Instead of that fifth starter, the Phils could use an extra reliever or bench player. Considering they already plan on carrying eight relievers, adding an extra bench player seems like a better option, but you never really know with this team.