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Yankees acquire reliever Jake Cousins from White Sox



Yankees acquire reliever Jake Cousins from White Sox

Just a few hours after the bullpen dominated the vaunted Astros lineup to complete a four-game sweep over their archrivals, the Yankees added their next project to the organization, spinning an Easter Sunday deal with the Chicago White Sox for reliever Jake Cousins.

The cousin of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Kirk Cousins, Jake was drafted by the Washington Nationals in the 20th round of the 2017 draft. Released during spring training in 2019 with an injury designation, Cousins found himself in the Milwaukee Brewers organization, with whom he made his MLB debut in 2021. Over the next calendar year, he established himself as a more-than-serviceable bullpen arm, posting a 2.70 ERA and striking out 65 in 43.1 innings. A UCL injury in June 2022, however, derailed his ascent, although it did not require Tommy John surgery.

Last season was not nearly as kind to Cousins, who struggled in a cameo with the Brewers, was traded to the Houston Astros, and ultimately was designated for assignment by the season’s end. In December, he signed a minor-league deal with the White Sox, with whom he spent the spring.

Even beyond his pre-injury success, it’s easy to see why the Yankees are intrigued by Cousins. To the surprise of nobody who has watched Matt Blake turn random arms into dominant relievers over the last few years, Cousins primarily leans on his sinker and slider, sprinkling in the occasional four-seamer.

Additionally, Cousins generates groundballs at a 50.4 percent clip — roughly the same rate that Tommy Kahnle and Nick Ramirez (who was designated for assignment yesterday) did last season.

Since he’s signed to a minor-league deal, the Yankees don’t have to add Cousins to their 40-man roster, and will likely just stash him in Triple-A as much-needed bullpen depth. Given his pitch profile, however, expect to see him in the Matt Blake sinker/slider bullpen factory sooner rather than later.

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