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SF Giants claim former A's starter Jharel Cotton off waivers, DFA Willie Calhoun

The SF Giants acquired right-handed pitcher Jharel Cotton off waivers on Sunday, designating Willie Calhoun for assignment to create space on the 40-man roster.

Another day, another SF Giants acquisition. On Sunday, San Francisco claimed right-handed pitcher Jharel Cotton off waivers from the Minnesota Twins. To create a space on the 40-man roster, they designated Willie Calhoun for assignment. Separately, recently claimed infielder José Rojas cleared waivers and was offered the chance to stay in the organization but opted to become a free agent.

Twins pitcher Jharel Cotton walks off the mound after an outing. He has since been acquired by the SF Giants.

Cotton was designated for assignment by the Minnesota Twins last week. Cotton has actually been quite effective out of the Twins bullpen this season, posting a 2.83 ERA in 35 innings pitched (25 appearances) with 31 strikeouts. However, Cotton's peripherals suggested he has benefited from good luck and might struggle to continue to be effective.

Every ERA estimator expects Cotton's ERA to be at least one run higher than it is (3.79 xERA, 5.48 FIP, 5.09 xFIP). Clearly skeptical of his numbers, the Twins decided to put Cotton on waivers.

Cotton was originally drafted by the Dodgers back in 2012, but made his MLB debut with the Oakland Athletics in 2016. Cotton was a member of the A's starting rotation in 2017 but underwent UCL surgery in the spring of 2018 and missed the entire season. Then, in 2019, Cotton struggled mightily in the minor leagues and was traded to the Cubs after the season.

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Without a minor-league season in 2020, Cotton never received a big-league promotion with Chicago. At the end of the year, the Cubs released Cotton and he inked a minor-league contract with the Rangers.

Cotton returned to the majors in 2021 with Texas and was solid out of the pen. He posted a 3.52 ERA across 23 appearances (30.2 innings pitched) with 30 strikeouts.

Cotton has simplified his pitch arsenal since converting to relief. He has thrown a four-seam fastball or changeup roughly 80% of the time over the past two seasons while occasionally mixing in a slider and curveball to keep hitters off balance.

The Giants acquired Calhoun from the Rangers in a trade for outfielder Steven Duggar earlier this year. San Francisco promoted Calhoun from Triple-A last week but optioned him back to the minors on Saturday. He hit .299/.386/.465 with five home runs in 41 games with their Triple-A affiliate but managed just one hit in eight MLB plate appearances with the Giants.

The Giants designated Rojas for assignment over the weekend to clear a space on the roster for a different waiver claim. Rojas is a versatile defender who has been one of the most productive hitters in the Pacific Coast League over the past few years but struggled in two big-league stints.