Aaron Cook turned in another strong start at Triple-A yesterday, allowing one unearned run in seven innings, and now sports a 1.33 ERA after four starts in Pawtucket.
Cook has a clause in his minor-league contract with the Red Sox that allows him to opt out and become a free agent again if he’s not in the majors by May 1, although he could choose not to use it and give Boston a bit more time to make a decision on his status.
Cook offered no hints about which way he’s leaning, telling Rob Bradford of WEEI.com: “I’ll make a decision when I feel like it’s time to make a decision. I haven’t made a decision yet.”
Obviously a 33-year-old veteran dominating Triple-A competition doesn’t mean he’s ready to do the same in the majors, but Cook looks like his old, pre-injury self with a low-90s fastball and tons of ground balls. In a decade with the Rockies he posted a 4.53 ERA in 1,312 innings, including a 4.39 ERA away from Coors Field, so if the Red Sox don’t think they can use him as a fourth or fifth starter there should be at least a few other teams that see a better fit.
The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.
Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.
Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.
The Phillies announced on Tuesday that the club traded pitcher Alec Asher to the Orioles for a player to be named later.
Asher, 25, was the victim of a roster crunch. He was not going to make the 25-man roster and the starting rotation at Triple-A Lehigh Valley was already full. The Phillies acquired him from the Rangers in the July 2015 Cole Hamels trade.
Asher had good results in 27 2/3 innings in the big leagues last year, posting a 2.28 ERA with a 13/4 K/BB ratio. While it didn’t show in those stats, the right-hander sometimes struggles with command and he doesn’t miss bats often enough to make up for it. The Orioles, however, are happy to add some pitching depth.