Cobb declines qualifying offer, hits free agency

November 16th, 2017

ST. PETERSBURG -- Alex Cobb has turned down the Rays' one-year qualifying offer of $17.4 million for the 2018 season, making the right-hander free to sign with another team as a free agent.

Cobb, 30, spent his first six Major League seasons with the Rays. He made 29 starts and went 12-10 with a 3.66 ERA and 128 strikeouts in 179 1/3 innings in 2017, his second year removed from Tommy John surgery.

A qualifying offer is a one-year deal worth $17.4 million for 2018, the average salary of MLB's 125 highest-paid players. If a player is extended a qualifying offer, turns it down and signs elsewhere, the team that loses him receives a Draft pick next year as compensation.

Cobb replied to a text with the following statement about his decision:

"Getting to this point in my career is truly bittersweet. Twelve years ago the Rays welcomed me into their organization. Being able to play in the stadium that I grew up attending has been a dream come true. The two things that I'll truly miss the most are the friendships I've made and our fans.

"The relationships I've built not only with my teammates and coaches but also the front office and staff have played a major part of who I am today. I can't express how much I'll miss spending each day with my Rays family. And to the Rays fans, I want to thank each and every one of you for your unwavering support. Your words of encouragement meant so much to me during the highlights of my career, but they meant even more during the challenging ones.

"As difficult as it is knowing I won't be wearing a Rays uniform next year, I'm beyond excited to see what the next chapter of my career brings!"

Erik Neander, Rays senior vice president of baseball operations and general manager, said: "We couldn't be more proud of all that Alex has accomplished while wearing a Tampa Bay uniform. He's a wonderful talent and an even better person. We'll remain in touch and no matter the outcome this winter, we wish him nothing but the best."

Because the Rays are a revenue-sharing recipient, according to's Jon Paul Morosi, if Cobb departs, the club could receive one of two different Draft picks based on the rules of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. If Cobb signed with another team for at least $50 million, the Rays would receive a 2018 Draft pick between the first round and Competitive Balance Round A. If he signed for less than $50 million, they would receive a pick following Competitive Balance Round B, which comes after the second round.

Qualifying offers had to be made by 5 p.m. ET on Nov. 6. Players like Cobb, who were extended such offers, had 10 days to accept or reject their offers.

Cobb is the second player the Rays have extended a qualifying offer to, with Melvin Upton Jr. being the other. After the 2012 season, the Rays opted to make the center fielder a qualifying offer of $13.3 million (the qualifying offer amount at the time), but Upton turned down the offer and signed a five-year, $75 million contract with the Braves.