There was a time when Jharel Cotton was one of the top prospects in the game.
Part of the return in the trade that sent Rich Hill and Josh Reddick to the Dodgers, Cotton had an impressive five game trial at the end of the 2016 season for the Oakland A’s. That led to his being named to the Baseball America Top 100 Prospects List ahead of the 2017 campaign and the hope that the A’s had found a future building block.
Jharel Cotton makes sense for Oakland A’s bargain bullpen
Instead, Cotton struggled in 2017 before injuries essentially changed the course of his career. He was sold to the Cubs in 2020 but was released before ever pitching for their organization due to the pandemic. He has then spent time with the Rangers, Twins, and Giants as a reliever, bouncing on the edges of the 40 man roster.
A frequent subject of the waiver wire, Cotton was let go by the Giants. This time, he has entered free agency, making him a potentially intriguing low cost option for a team looking to fill out a bullpen. As he has multiple years of team control left, he could find himself with plenty of opportunities.
He is someone that the A’s should consider bringing back as well. Cotton posted a solid 3.54 ERA and a 1.256 WHiP in his 43 innings between the Giants and Twins, striking out 39 batters with 20 walks. While those numbers may not jump off of the page, they were better than a great deal of what the A’s had in the bullpen last year.
Then there is his likely salary. Cotton had been projected to earn just over $1 million in arbitration this year, a number he is not likely to get in free agency. The A’s are not going to spend much, if anything at all, in the market this offseason. However, his lower cost would make him a solid addition and, if he performs well, a potential trade chip at the deadline.
The Oakland A’s are not going to do much in free agency. However, Jharel Cotton could be the type of bargain that makes sense to go after.