The Chicago Cubs have acquired right-hand pitcher, Jharel Cotton, from the Oakland Athletics for cash considerations. According to Jordan Bastian of MLB.com, “the Cubs are in the market for a variety of pitching depth this offseason and the organization has never hesitated to take on a high-upside reclamation project. That made Jharel Cotton a probable target for Chicago as soon as the A’s cut ties with the righty last week.” Cotton has not pitched in Major League Baseball since 2017, but there is some upside to the 27-year-old from the Virgin Islands.
Cotton made his MLB debut on September 7, 2016, earning the win against the Los Angeles Angels. He would make four more starts that season going 2-0 with a 2.15 ERA and 23 strikeouts over 29 1/3 innings pitched.
In 2017, Cotton finish 9-10 with a 5.58 ERA and 105 strikeouts through 129 innings. His best outing was against the Kansas City Royals when he pitched seven innings giving up just two hits and striking out six. On an April 11, 2017 episode of MLB Tonight, Pedro Martinez compared Cotton to himself. Pedro compared himself to Cotton in pitch types including the way they both throw the change-up.
Cotton underwent Tommy John surgery on March 18, 2018, ending his season.
In 2019, he pitched for High-A Stockton and Triple-A Las Vegas going 1-3 with a 7.16 ERA including 33 strikeouts and only 12 walks in 27 innings. Not super spectacular numbers, but enough to warrant consideration from the Cubs
2020 and Beyond
The Cubs have said they are looking for more pitching depth, and Cotton can provide this for them. Although it will probably not be as a starter, Cotton could get innings as a long reliever and spot starter. The first four spots in the pitching rotation are currently locked up by Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana, and Yu Darvish. The fifth spot could be earned this spring but will be contended with more experienced pitcher Tyler Chatwood. The bullpen is not a lock either as there are more arms than spots and the Cubs are continuing to look to add depth. So Cotton will have to compete there as well. He does have some experience at the big league level which should help him and with new manager David Ross everyone will have the opportunity to make a new impression.