LAKE BUENA VISTA — Alex Cobb has heard enough good things from potential new teams that it seems fairly certain he will be saying goodbye to his old one.
Agent Dan Horwits said there have been "a lot of teams" interested in the veteran right-hander, and while the discussions have been preliminary, it seems as if they have heard enough for Cobb to decline the Rays’ one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer. That was their hope anyway, as it gives them a chance to get draft pick compensation.
The Cubs and Twins have been linked most to Cobb, who Horwits said is doing his own research as well.
• Rays free-agent first baseman Logan Morrison is getting some initial interest from the Red Sox and Angels, among others.
• Rays officials met with several teams and agents to gauge potential matchups. "Anytime you put all 30 clubs in the same building, it’s going to spur good conversation," senior vice president Chaim Bloom said. "We’re getting a better sense of what opportunities we might have."
• Rays general manager Erik Neander was a popular interview subject for Japanese media curious how the Rays handled two-way player Brendan McKay after making him their top pick in the draft, given how Shohei Ohtani wants to continue pitching and hitting when he comes to the majors.
Top managers named
Paul Molitor won the American League manager of the year award after his Twins became the first team to make the playoffs following a 100-loss season.
Molitor drew 18 of the 30 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. The Indians’ Terry Francona was second and A.J. Hinch of the World Series champion Astros third.
Torey Lovullo of the Diamondbacks won the NL award, also getting 18 first-place votes. In his first full season as a big-league skipper, Arizona reached the NL wild-card game a year after going 69-93. Dave Roberts of the NL champion Dodgers was second and the Rockies’ Bud Black was third.
Molitor joined Frank Robinson as the only Hall of Fame players to win a manager of the year award, which was first presented in 1983.
The Twins went 85-77 this season and earned their first playoff spot since 2010.
PICKING UP THE PACE: Major League Baseball is intent on shortening games next season.
The average time of a nine-inning game was a record 3 hours, 5 minutes this season, up from 2:56 in 2015. The postseason average was 3:29.
Many owners and general managers want to cut down trips to the mound by catchers, whether the reason is changing signs, talking about pitch selection or giving a pitcher a breather during long plate appearances.
Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro said "it’s not just listening to our current fans, it’s thinking about our future fans and the landscape we’re competing on."
OBITUARY: "Jungle Jim" Rivera, an outfielder on the 1959 "Go-Go" White Sox pennant-winning team, died Monday night in Fort Wayne, Ind. He was 96.
Information from Times wires was used in this report.