The Red Sox announced that Taylor Cole has been signed to a minor league contract, with the right-hander receiving a non-roster invitation to Spring Training. Since Cole began the offseason as a minor league free agent, he is eligible to sign during the lockout.
Cole posted a 2.08 ERA over 8 2/3 innings in the Dominican Winter League, which marked his first action of any kind since he pitched for the Angels in 2019. Beyond the canceled minor league season and postponed MLB season in 2020, Cole was also set back by shoulder problems that forced him to undergo surgery in August 2020. He didn’t pitch at all last season while recovering, until finally returning to the mound this winter to audition for scouts in the Dominican.
Cole posted a 4.97 ERA over 88 2/3 career innings with the Blue Jays and Angels from 2017-19, with a 23.9% strikeout rate and a 49.4% grounder rate. The righty had some bigger strikeout totals during his minor league career, and his grounder-heavy attack did a generally good job of avoiding the long ball until the homer-heavy 2019 Triple-A season, as Cole surrendered five home runs over 23 1/3 total innings with Anaheim’s Triple-A and high-A affiliates.
He hasn’t yet had a chance to rebound from that rough 2019 campaign, but the Red Sox clearly saw enough in the DWL to take the low-risk move of inviting Cole to their spring camp. Cole has worked as both a starter and reliever during his career, thus perhaps lining up as a swingman or long relief option as Boston looks to cover innings and create flexibility within its pitching staff.