The Yomiuri Giants of Nippon Professional Baseball have reached a deal with right-hander Ryan Cook, as per a team announcement (via The Japan Times). Cook will earn roughly $1.3MM (or 140 million yen) for the coming season.
Cook chose to become a free agent after being outrighted off the Mariners’ 40-man roster in October. The 31-year-old posted a 5.29 ERA over 17 relief innings for Seattle last season, delivering some strong peripherals (12.2 K/9, 3.29 K/BB rate) but also a bloated 2.1 HR/9 that led to his unimpressive ERA. A 3.48 xFIP and 2.97 SIERA paint a much more favorable impression of Cook’s 2018 performance.
It was Cook’s first taste of Major League action since the 2015 season, when shoulder problems limited him to just 8 2/3 innings for the A’s and Red Sox, and a variety of further injuries kept Cook on the shelf for all of 2016 and 2017. Cook spent much of that stretch recovering from Tommy John surgery, and also had to deal with nerve transposition surgery in his throwing arm, as well as torn hamstring and lat muscles. With this long layoff in mind, Cook’s 94.4 mph average fastball velocity in 2018 was a good sign, as he checked in just a touch below his 94.7 mph career average.
From 2012-14, Cook was a stalwart in the Athletics’ bullpen, posting a 2.60 ERA, 9.3 K/9, 2.66 K/BB rate over 190 2/3 innings and earning a spot on the 2012 AL All-Star roster. He showed glimpses of this form last season now that he was finally healthy, and Cook will look to further re-establish himself in Japan. It’s likely Cook would have had to settle for a minor league contract with an MLB team, so his deal with Yomiuri gives him a nice payday as well as an opportunity in a brand-new environment.