The Giants have brought back Cole Waites on a minor league contract, according to the team’s official transactions page. Waites was non-tendered last week, and the new minor league pact means that the Giants won’t need to use a 40-man roster spot on the 25-year-old righty.
Waites had Tommy John surgery in mid-September, making it all but certain he’ll miss the 2024 season unless he can complete rehab in time for an inning or two right at the end of the regular-season schedule. The transactions page didn’t indicate that Waites’ deal is anything more than a standard one-year minors contract, but it wouldn’t be surprising if it was a two-year deal or if the Giants signed him to another type of extension at some point in 2024 once they get a better read on how his rehab is progressing.
An 18th-round pick for the Giants in the 2019 draft, Waites has appeared in the big leagues in each of the last two seasons, totaling eight innings over 10 games and a 6.75 ERA with six walks and strikeouts apiece. Waites fits the clasic profile of the hard-throwing but wild reliever, with a 15.32% walk rate over his 103 career minor league innings but also a fastball that routinely hits the upper-90s (and can reach 100mph). When Waites has been able to find the plate, he has been deadly — he has a 37.61% strikeout rate against minor league hitters.
The potential is obvious if Waites can pair that heater with even average control, though his injury history now adds another obstacle to his future. Waites also missed a big chunk of the 2021 season due to knee surgery, and between his injuries and the canceled 2020 minor league season, he has played in only 102 games (and thrown 103 innings) as a professional.