San Francisco Giants pitcher Alex Cobb will have left hip labrum surgery Tuesday, the team announced. Here’s what you need to know:
- The right-hander is expected to be out for around six months, meaning he will likely miss the start of the 2024 season.
- The Giants hold a $10 million option on Cobb for the 2024 season that includes a $2 million buyout.
- Cobb made his first All-Star team in 2023 and finished the year 7-7 with a 3.87 ERA in 28 starts.
The Giants’ need for a top-level rotation piece just increased. RHP Alex Cobb will have left hip labrum surgery tomorrow. Return to pitching is approximately 6 months, Giants say.
— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) October 31, 2023
What this means for the Giants offseason plans
The Giants were already hoping to fortify the front of their rotation on the free-agent market. Now that Cobb is undergoing hip labrum surgery, that hope becomes more of a necessity.
Cobb gritted through most of the second half with hip discomfort but was optimistic when the season ended that the impingement would improve with an offseason of rest and rehabilitation. However, after a month of trying different therapies and treatment options, and following another consultation with Dr. Marc Philippon in Vail, Colo., Cobb decided to go the surgical route Tuesday morning. The Giants said that Cobb will be able to return to pitching in six months, which would rule him out at least through April of next season.
Cobb was a 36-year-old first-time All-Star in 2023 and one of the more underrated starting pitchers in the National League. His production in the past two seasons (14-15, 3.80 ERA in 56 starts, one of the league’s best ground ball rates) made him a bargain after signing a two-year, $20 million contract prior to the 2021 season. He provided one of the biggest thrills in the Giants’ otherwise disappointing season Aug. 29 against the Cincinnati Reds when he came within an out of throwing a no-hitter.
Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said earlier this month that the team intends to pick up its $10 million option on Cobb for 2024 rather than choose a $2 million buyout. The surgery and recovery time might complicate that decision, which must be made within a few days after the conclusion of the World Series. Although it’s possible the team could seek to renegotiate, that tactic could be viewed as somewhat harsh given the fact that Cobb has outperformed his salary to date. Cobb is also among the most respected players in the clubhouse, so attempting to bring him back at a lower salary might not go over so well with teammates at a time when the Giants are seeking to rebuild a solid culture under newly hired manager Bob Melvin.
Cobb’s status is likely to increase the Giants’ appetite to add a frontline rotation presence alongside right-handed ace Logan Webb, with Orix Buffaloes right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto considered the top prize. The Giants also could make a run at Blake Snell, the NL Cy Young Award frontrunner who pitched for Melvin in San Diego last season.
Even if left-hander Sean Manaea opts out of his $12.5 million salary in 2024, the Giants feel good about their young pitching depth — a group that includes Kyle Harrison, Keaton Winn and Tristan Beck. They also hope to have a healthy Anthony DeSclafani and an improved Ross Stripling. But adding to the front of their rotation could allow them to trade from that depth to address needs at several positions including shortstop and center field. — Andrew Baggarly, Giants writer
Cobb joined San Francisco in 2022 after previous stints with the Los Angeles Angels, Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays.
Cobb struck out a career-high 151 batters in 2022, while posting the best strikeout-to-walk ratio in his career. In 12 seasons, Cobb carries a career record of 77-75 with a 3.85 ERA.
(Photo: Suzanna Mitchell / San Francisco Giants / Getty Images)