RHP Alex Cobb never expected to be going into late January without knowing where he was going for spring training.
The longtime Ray's first foray into free agency hasn't gone as planned, much like the 150-plus others waiting for something to give in a market colder than the weather.
"You're full of excitement, you're rushing into this thing like, 'Oh, this is going to be a lot of fun, a great experience,' " Cobb said Friday. "Then somewhere between November and December you realize how slow things are going and you kind of start reading the writing on the wall that this is a little bit of a different offseason than years before.
"Then you go through a little bit of a frustrating moment, frustrated with the process, frustrated with the way things are going. Then you kind of get to the point where you're like, 'Whatever. We're all in this same boat together.' You just kind of change your frame of mind to accepting the fact that this thing is going to go down to the wire and you get comfortable with that."
The Cubs, with former Rays manager Joe Maddon and now pitching coach Jim Hickey, are rumored to be Cobb's likely destination, even with reports he turned down a three-year, $42 million deal. Going into the winter, he seemed in line for more like a four-year, $60 million deal, or $70 million-plus over five, so that makes sense.
Cobb wouldn't get into specifics Friday, saying he has talked seriously with 15 teams and hasn't eliminated any. The Brewers, Twins, Nationals, Orioles, Rangers, Yankees are reportedly among the in. "Everywhere is an option for me at this point," Cobb said. Even — his words — going back to the Rays for a year, as unlikely as that is.
While ex-Rays Tommy Hunter ($18 million over two years from Phillies) and Steve Cishek ($13 million, two years, Cubs) have signed, Cobb waits, as do OF Peter Bourjos, 1B Lucas Duda, 1B Logan Morrison, RHP Sergio Romo.
"It'll be very interesting to see the reasonings when all this is done, and kind of dissect it a little bit and get to figure out why the market was so slow this offseason," Cobb said. "Very interesting."
San Francisco treat: With No. 3 retired for Bill Terry, ex-Rays star Evan Longoria gets No. 10 with the Giants. Can't imagine the Rays letting anyone wear 3 anytime soon. … At $13.5 million, Longoria went from being the highest paid Ray to ninth on the Giants. … Heard the other teams Longoria suggested to the Rays as good trade fits included the Cardinals, Mets and Red Sox.
Helping hand: INF Daniel Robertson last weekend held his second fanfest-style event near his SoCal home, raising money to help families with medical bills related to fighting cancer. To donate, see danielrobertstonfamilyfoundation.org.
Rays rumblings: In addition to a uniform patch marking the team's 20-year anniversary, expect promotions and giveaways with that theme. … Curious when Tampa stadium proponents will start that drive for sponsor and season-ticket commitments principal owner Stuart Sternberg wants to see. … Kevin Kiermaier, ranked 10th among centerfielders, was the only Ray to make Buster Olney's ESPN.com top 10 at each position. … Seems likely the Rays will join other teams in expanding netting by the dugouts. … With agent Jason Wood fired from his firm amid controversy, arbitration-bound RHP Jake Odorizzi signed with Excel and is handled by Bobby Barad, whose Rays clients include Corey Dickerson. … Melanie Lenz was promoted from vice president, strategy and development to chief development officer. Also, Jeff Tanzer promoted to VP, ticket sales and service; Eric Weisberg to VP, marketing and creative services; Patrick Smith to senior director, controller; and Michael Weinman to director, game presentation and production. … Prospects 1B Jake Bauers, OF Justin Williams and LHP Ryan Yarbrough attended the MLB Rookie Career Development Program in Washington, D.C. … Kiermaier was mlb.com's choice as the most likely Hall of Famer among current Rays.
Ex-Rays rumblings: C Curt Casali signed a minor-league deal with Texas, having first signed with Anaheim then granted his release when the Angels blocked his path to the majors by adding another ex-Ray, Rene Rivera. … Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation donated $71,000 to hurricane relief funds in Tampa Bay, Houston and Puerto Rico. … Sure, Rays fans were upset to see Longoria go. But after the Pirates traded franchise cornerstone OF Andrew McCutchen and RHP Gerrit Cole, fans in Pittsburgh started an online petition urging Bob Nutting to sell the team. They have 50,000-plus signatures. … With nearly 200 of the roughly 425 Hall of Fame ballots posted online, Fred McGriff has 36 votes, Johnny Damon three and Aubrey Huff none. The announcement is Wednesday.
Marc Topkin can be reached at email@example.com. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.