Saturday, February 24, 2018
  • The Heater
  • Marc Topkin

A popular topic at GM meetings? Rays draft pick Brendan McKay. Guess why.

UPDATE, 12:02:  There has been "lots of interest" thus far in Cobb, though still preliminary, which means without much specifics. Cobb is doing his research as well, valuing not just the years and money and team's chance to win but also the clubhouse chemistry. All signs point to Cobb declining the Rays qualifying offer on Thursday. There also has been strong interest in C Curt Casali, who became a free agent when the Rays dropped him off the 40-man roster.

Here are a couple of early Tuesday morning notes from around the GM meetings, which move into their second day:

* Rays GM Erik Neander was a popular interview subject for Japanese media curious how the Rays handled two-way player Brendan McKay after making him the top pick in the draft given how Shohei Ohtani wants to continue pitching and hitting when he comes to the majors, potentially next season. The Rays are among many teams very interested in Ohtani, and Neander – though to declining to comment on Ohtani directly – used the session to make a good case for how the Rays are open to the idea. McKay pitched and split time at first base and DH during his initial pro season at short-season Class A Hudson Valley and is expected to move up to either Class A Bowling Green or Charlotte next season.

* As other teams do, the Rays were meeting late Monday with several agents to get a sense of what clients may be of interest.

* Several teams are being identified as having interest in Rays free-agent 1B Logan Morrison, including the Red Sox and Angels.

* Though RHP Alex Cobb said Monday he still has not decided on whether to take the Rays one-year, $17.4-million qualifying offer by the Thursday deadline, it would be a major surprise if he doesn't decline. Cobb is one of the top four-five starters on the market, and speculation on interest includes not only the obvious options of the Cubs (with former Rays manager Joe Maddon and pitching coach Jim Hickey) and Dodgers (former Rays baseball operations chief Andrew Friedman) but also the Twins and others. Cobb made the point in a recent MLB Network Radio piece that he is more interested in a winning team than chasing the top dollar.

* There hasn't been much chatter yet about the Rays other free agents, including relievers Steve Cishek, Tommy Hunter and Sergio Romo, and 1B/DH Lucas Duda.

* Original Devil Rays manager Larry Rothschild reportedly will stay with the Yankees no matter who they hire as manager. That explains why he was not linked to any of the other openings around the majors.

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