If Cole’s time with the Cleveland organization is up, his stay will have been brief; the Indians only claimed him off waivers from the Yankees back on Jan 11. He’d have been in line to compete for a bullpen job in Spring Training and may still have that opportunity, though he’ll first need to clear outright waivers. If another club claims Cole, that new team will have to open the season with him on the Major League roster or else once again expose him to waivers, as Cole is out of minor league options.
Cole, who turned 27 earlier this month, gave the Yankees 38 innings of 4.26 ERA ball after being acquired from the Nationals in 2018, pitching in primarily a multi-inning relief role. Along the way, he averaged a strong 11.6 K/9 and registered an enormous 15.9 percent swinging-strike rate with a very good 34.3 percent opponents’ chase rate on out-of-zone pitches. However, he was also immensely susceptible to home runs, as he averaged 2.13 homers per nine innings pitched with the Yankees. In all, between New York and Washington, Cole yielded a staggering 15 home runs in 38 innings.
That said, Cole was at one point considered to be among the most promising pitching prospects in all of baseball, and surely the strikeout rate, swinging-strike rate and chase rate could hold appeal to another team — particularly one that is thin on rotation depth and/or has multiple bullpen spots up for grabs. He’ll need to learn to keep the ball in the yard, but the level at which Cole missed bats in 2018 would be elite if he proved it to be sustainable; the 15.9 percent swinging-strike rate he logged as a Yankee would’ve ranked 12th in the game among qualified relievers last year.