The SF Giants will have a roster crunch when free agency begins as they will need to bring back a handful of players currently on the 60-day injured list. The purge has already begun as veteran reliever Jharel Cotton became a free agent after being outrighted off of the 40-man roster according to the team's transaction log.
SF Giants outright veteran reliever off of the 40-man roster
Cotton was claimed off of waivers from the Minnesota Twins near the end of the season. It was his fourth stint on the waiver wire during this regular season, and he decided to remain with Minnesota after clearing waivers each time previously.
The Giants were in audition mode near the end of the year, which included Cotton's brief stint with the organization. Interestingly, the right-handed hurler's overall numbers in 2022 look solid as he registered a 3.56 ERA, 4.95 FIP, 1.25 WHIP, 8.2 K/9, and a 1.95 SO/W ratio in 30 combined appearances with the Twins and the Giants.
This included six earned runs on eight strikeouts against four walks in eight frames while wearing a Giants uniform. He had a couple of nice outings with San Francisco but a 4-run appearance in 0.2 innings in a game against the San Diego Padres in the final series of the regular season really affected his overall line.
The Giants have a bevy of arbitration-eligible players this winter headlined by Logan Webb, Austin Slater, and Tyler Rogers. There are certainly some easy decisions in the case of Webb, but some questionable decisions coming up as well.
Cotton was slated to go through arbitration for the first time in his career with a projected salary of $1.1 million in 2023. When the offseason began, I suspected that the 30-year-old would be a potential non-tender candidate and this roster move confirms that.
It does not necessarily have to do with Cotton's salary as the Giants could easily afford it. It is the fact that Cotton does not have any options remaining while likely only filling a low or medium-leverage role in the bullpen.
He could have certainly filled that role, but the Giants likely wanted to clear up that 40-man roster spot while looking for a reliever who gives them more flexibility whether it be someone with minor-league options remaining or someone on a minor-league deal with a camp invite.
I would not be surprised if Cotton returned to the Giants on a minor-league pact. He has crossed paths with both manager Gabe Kapler and team president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi when they were all part of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. There is a sense of familiarity there, which might hold value to Cotton.