The Twins will designate right-hander Jharel Cotton for assignment today in order to open roster space for right-hander Dylan Bundy, who is being activated from the injured list, manager Rocco Baldelli announced (Twitter link via Betsy Helfand of the St. Paul Pioneer Press).
It’ll be the second DFA of the season for the 30-year-old Cotton, who was also designated back on April 13. Cotton cleared waivers the first time around and accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A St. Paul, even though he has three-plus years of service time and a prior outright — either of which would allow him to reject the assignment in favor of free agency. The Twins will have a week to trade him or try to pass him through waivers a second time.
Cotton was claimed off waivers out of the Rangers organization at the end of the 2021 season and has tossed 6 2/3 innings for Minnesota thus far in 2022. He’s yielded just one run and punched out seven batters in that time, but he’s also walked six batters, hit another one and thrown a wild pitch. A former top-100 prospect who went from the Dodgers to the A’s alongside Grant Holmes and Frankie Montas in 2016’s Josh Reddick/Rich Hill swap, Cotton carries a 4.60 ERA with a 19.5% strikeout rate, a 9.2% walk rate and a 35.5% grounder rate in 195 2/3 big league innings.
As for Bundy, he’ll return after missing nearly two weeks following a positive Covid test. The former Orioles and Angels righty was brilliant to begin the season, combining for 15 1/3 innings of one-run ball with a 12-to-1 K/BB ratio across his first three starts as a Twin. He was clobbered for six runs in six innings against the Rays in his fourth start of the season, however, and his former Orioles club jumped him for a whopping nine runs in 3 2/3 innings the day before he landed on the injured list.
That pair of disastrous outings has overshadowed Bundy’s terrific start, and he’s now sitting on a 5.76 ERA with a 20.6% strikeout rate and 4.7% walk rate through 25 innings. With Bailey Ober sidelined by a groin strain and Chris Paddack landing on the 60-day IL owing to elbow inflammation, the Twins will be all the more dependent on a rebound from Bundy. If Bundy can put that pair of ugly outings behind him and right the ship, his one-year, $5MM contract contains an $11MM club option for the 2023 season. He’ll take the mound for tonight’s game in Oakland.