The lockout has put a pause on all major-league transactions this winter, which has mostly ground this offseason to a standstill. That said, teams are still able to sign players to minor-league deals, which the Boston Red Sox have done a bit over this time. They struck again, announcing on Wednesday that they had signed former Angels right-handed pitcher Taylor Cole to a minor-league deal that also includes an invitation to spring training. He joins four others who had previously been announced as non-roster invitees to camp.
Cole is a 32-year-old right-handed pitcher who first entered pro ball as a 29th round pick by the Toronto Blue Jays back in 2011. He spent a long while making his way through the minors, mostly as a starter, before making it up to the majors for a single relief appearance in 2018 for his big-league debut. Following that season he was signed by the Angels where he spent parts of the next two years in their major-league bullpen. In total, Cole has made 57 appearances in the majors, pitching to a 4.97 ERA with 90 strikeouts and 47 walks.
As for the last two seasons, he hasn’t pitched a whole lot after undergoing shoulder surgery late in the 2020 season. Cole didn’t throw at all in affiliated games for all of the 2021 season, but this winter he was able to get some time in the Dominican Winter League to throw in front of scouts. In 8 2⁄3 innings in winter ball, the righty pitched to a 2.08 ERA with eight strikeouts and six walks. We don’t have pitch data from those outings, but from his previous time in the majors he threw a fastball in the 91-94 range along with a changeup that proved to be his best pitch and a slider.
As a minor-league signing, there is little to no risk in bringing in someone like Cole, and there is an outside chance that he can come up and provide important depth as the season goes along. At the very least, Red Sox scouts saw enough in the Dominican to give him a chance to compete for a depth role, and unless there is a flood of injuries in camp Cole will either be looking for an opportunity elsewhere or part of the Worcester pitching staff to start the season.