The Cubs made a minor trade on Saturday, acquiring right-hander Jharel Cotton from the Oakland A’s for cash. Oakland designated him for assignment on Wednesday.
Cotton is a reclamation project, as he missed all of 2018 after undergoing Tommy John surgery in spring training. He returned this July, making 18 appearances (three starts) between Single-A and Triple-A for the A’s. In 27 2/3 innings, he posted a 7.16 ERA, striking out 33 batters while walking 12.
In his final six outings (one start; all with Triple-A), the 27-year-old posted a 3.24 ERA in 8 1/3 innings, striking out eight compared to four walks
Cotton has 29 career big league appearances — all starts — 24 of which came in 2017. He relies on five pitches: a low-to-mid-90s four-seamer, an upper-80s slider, an upper-70s changeup, a low-90s sinker and an upper-70s curveball. He throws the former three most often.
The Cubs have made several low-risk, high-reward trades over the past year or so. Last November, they acquired reliever Rowan Wick from the Padres in a move that generated little headlines. But after working with the Cubs “pitch lab,” Wick ascended from an unknown Triple-A pitcher to one of the Cubs’ most-trusted relievers by season’s end.
Wick’s former roommate with the Padres, Brad Wieck, joined the Cubs in a 2019 trade deadline deal that sent Carl Edwards Jr. to San Diego. The focus was all on Edwards initially, but Wieck — like Wick — became a central figure in the Cubs’ bullpen down the stretch. He also worked with the pitch lab.
Acquiring Cotton is another low-risk, high-reward move. Not every player the Cubs obtain in low-key deals will be as successful as the Wi(e)cks. But if the move pans out, Cotton will offer the Cubs rotation depth, or possibly bullpen help, both of which they'll need to address this winter.
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