According to Brewers beat reporter Tom Haudricourt, the Brewers have signing left handed reliever Neal Cotts to a one year $3 million contract. This puts their payroll projection at approximately $100.5 million. Formerly of the Texas Rangers, Cotts will be entering his age 35 season.
Last season Cotts pitched 66.2 innings with a 4.32 ERA. He produced a 22.0 K%, 8.0 BB%, .254 BAA, and a 1.34 WHIP. FIP (3.58), xFIP (3.86), and SIERA (3.41) liked him though.
Cotts has some peculiar splits. Normally you'd expect a left handed reliever to, if not excel at it, be better at facing left handed hitting than right handed hitting. That's not always been the case with Cotts. Here are his last 3 seasons vs left handed hitters.
And now his last 3 seasons vs right handed hitters.
So, to answer your first question: No that's not a mistake. Neal Cotts did not pitch in the majors in 2010-2012. He did pitch around 30 innings in AAA for the Rangers in 2012 though. What happened you ask?
Cotts has had four surgeries on his right hip. His agent, Joe Bick, once told me, "His medical file is the biggest I’ve seen in my life."— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 30, 2015
So yeah, that's pretty nuts. But he has pitched two full seasons which would suggest he's been healthy since returning. Also there's this:
Cotts deal with #Brewers is for one year. Team gave him a hands-on physical. One pitcher who can’t solely be judged by his MRIs.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 30, 2015
I've said it many times. If the Brewers medical staff, which is top notch, gives it's okay on a player I'm sold.
But back to that table of numbers. We can ignore 2009's stats. He only pitched a handful of innings before getting hurt. Those numbers from the last 2 years are interesting enough.
As you can see Cotts has actually been rather decent vs RHH. He's been less so vs LHH. And it's not really an isolated post injury return kind of thing. His splits sort of fluctuate from year to year. Sometimes he's better vs lefties, sometimes vice versa. Sometimes he's not so good versus either.
That being said, pitchers can change throughout there career and it's probably fair to weight his recent years more heavily. You should do that with any player, but based on his injury history and recent relative health it's doubly relevant.
That bodes well for the Brewers. Two of his best seasons were in 2013 and 2014, though the former was significantly better by all accounts. Steamer (3.10 ERA, 3.48 FIP) and PECOTA (3.19 ERA) both give Cotts their blessing which is comforting, even if Steamer thinks he'll only pitch 10 innings.
The Brewers certainly have more than $3 million to spend and this signing does nothing to alleviate their need for late inning relief help. Actually, it doesn't really seem to alleviate their want (notice I didn't say need) for a "second lefty" since Cotts doesn't exactly (or at least doesn't always) excel at getting LHH out. I'd look for the Brewers to still get one of Francisco Rodriguez or Jonathan Papelbon.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs