The Angels announced a series of roster moves Wednesday, revealing that recently designated right-hander Taylor Cole cleared waivers and was assigned outright to Triple-A Salt Lake. The Halos also optioned right-hander Luke Bard, left-hander Ryan Buchter, outfielder Michael Hermosillo and first baseman Jared Walsh to Salt Lake.
Cole, 30, will have the right to reject the assignment in favor of free agency because he’s been previously outrighted (by the Blue Jays in 2017), but given the uncertain state of the game it would be a surprise to see him venture into the open market. Cole posted an ugly 5.92 ERA in 51 2/3 innings with the Angels last season and doesn’t have a history of success in Triple A (4.96 ERA in 81 2/3 innings).
That said, Cole probably wasn’t as bad as his ERA appeared. He was weighed down by a .366 average on balls in play and a fluky low 60.3 percent strand rate. Assuming he does head to Triple A, he’ll provide some experienced depth to an organization that has been utterly hammered by injuries to the pitching staff over the past few years.
Of the players optioned to Triple A, Buchter is the most surprising. The former Athletics, Royals and Padres southpaw signed a minor-league deal with the Angels this winter but was selected to the MLB roster on Sunday, making it seem like he had punched his ticket to the big leagues. Instead, it appears that whenever the season does begin, he’ll bide his time in Triple A. In 214 MLB innings, Buchter has a 2.86 ERA with nearly 10 strikeouts per nine innings.
Bard pitched 49 innings with the Angels last season but narrowly kept his ERA under 5.00. The former second-round pick is proof that spin rate alone won’t bring about success — he led the majors in fastball spin — and he’ll head down to Salt Lake for additional work. Hermosillo has yet to hit in the majors and saw his production dip in a second Triple-A season last year.
Walsh hit 36 home runs in 98 games with Salt Lake last year, slugging nearly .700 amid Triple A’s own juiced ball bonanza. The 26-year-old’s output didn’t carry over to the Majors, but he received 87 plate appearances. He’ll probably get another shot in the big leagues at some point in 2020.