The White Sox signed right-handed pitcher Jake Cousins to a minor league deal on Thursday, according to MLB.com’s transaction log. Cousins was assigned to Triple-A Charlotte but will likely receive an invite to big league camp in the spring.
The 29-year-old appeared in nine games with the Brewers last season, posting a 4.82 ERA and 2.14 WHIP in 9.1 innings of work. The limited action was thanks in part to shoulder inflammation that resulted in Cousins getting placed on the IL in June. When he was ready to return the Brewers optioned him to Triple-A. He was claimed off waivers by the Astros in July but failed to return to the big leagues.
Cousins only has 52.2 MLB innings under his belt, all of which came with the Brewers. He owns a career ERA of 3.08 with 72 strikeouts and a 1.39 WHIP. Cousins made his debut in 2021 and proved to be an effective reliever out of the Brewers bullpen. In 30 appearances he owned a 2.70 ERA and 35.2% strikeout rate. The following season he once again posted a 2.70 ERA but threw just 13.1 innings.
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His career 16.1 percent walk rate is a bit of a concern and one of the reasons he struggled in 2023 (22.2%). Between the Brewers and Astros organizations, he had a combined 6.35 ERA in the minor leagues. Despite the walks, he did have an average of 13.7 strikeouts per nine innings in Triple-A.
Cousins has a three-pitch mix which includes a slider, sinker, and four-seam fastball. His 6’4″ frame gives him a good extension and makes his 94 mph fastball a bit more deceiving for hitters.
Those big strikeout numbers may be one of the reasons why the White Sox front office opted to take a flier on him. The White Sox bullpen is thin after trading Joe Kelly and Kendall Graveman at last year’s trade deadline and then sending Aaron Bummer to Atlanta in the offseason. They also will be without All-Star closer Liam Hendriks after declining his club option.
Cousins will have a clear path to the big leagues in Chicago if he can hone in his command. If he does break camp with the team there will be opportunities for him to see significant time on the mound. Even if he doesn’t make the Opening Day roster, Cousins does have minor league options remaining before he is exposed to waivers which gives the front office some added flexibility.