The Twins announced Friday that they’ve claimed righty Jharel Cotton off waivers from the Rangers and outrighted infielder/outfielder Rob Refsnyder off the 40-man roster. Minnesota also confirmed prior reports that right-hander Alex Colome’s 2022 mutual option has been declined.
Though his track record is spotty, Cotton put up solid numbers as a low-leverage relief option for the Rangers in 2021, posting a 3.52 ERA (3.72 FIP) across 30 2/3 innings while striking out just shy of a batter an inning. For his career, Cotton sports a less appealing 4.71 ERA (5.06 FIP) over 189 innings, though prior to 2021 he hadn’t seen a big-league mound since he covered 129 of those innings as a back-end starter for the 2017 A’s.
Since then, Cotton has dealt with a variety of injuries, undergoing both Tommy John surgery in 2018 and a hamstring issue that also required surgery in 2019. The A’s traded him to the Cubs for cash considerations in late 2019, and though he was chosen for the Cubs’ alternate site, he was never promoted to the active roster. The Rangers then signed him to a minor league deal and promoted him to the bigs in July of this year after he pitched to a 3.00 ERA in 42 innings at Triple-A Round Rock.
Cotton will be arbitration-eligible in 2022 (Matt Swartz pegs him at a $1.2MM salary in MLBTR’s arbitration projections), which may be behind the Rangers’ decision to move on from the righty. The Twins evidently see him as a potential bargain, however, as they look to return to contention next year following a disappointing 2021. They’ll hope Cotton can help solidify the back end of a ’pen that featured several solid options (Taylor Rogers, Caleb Thielbar, Tyler Duffey) in 2021 but struggled to cover a season’s worth of innings.
Refsnyder, a journeyman utility bench bat, was also eligible for arbitration, but the Twins have decided not to tender him a contract at a projected $800K salary. He’ll presumably opt for minor league free agency in the coming days.
Across 614 plate appearances in parts of six seasons with the Yankees, Blue Jays, Rays, Rangers, and Twins, Refsnyder has put together a .224/.310/.308 line. His versatility may give him a chance to catch on somewhere, but he’ll likely need to find a way to tap into more power (he’s slugged .442 across parts of nine seasons in the minors) to add much value.