Yankees Acquire A.J. Cole; DFA David Hale

The Cole train makes a stop at the 161st Street–Yankee Stadium station.

Needing bullpen reinforcements, the Yankees hooked up with the Washington Nationals on a simple trade after Monday’s 14-to-1 drubbing of the Minnesota Twins. The Bombers acquired right-hander A.J. Cole from the Nats in exchange for cash considerations.

The Yankees plan to activate Cole for Tuesday’s matchup with the Twins. To clear 25- and 40-man roster space, the team designated fellow righty David Hale for assignment. Hale pitched two scoreless innings of mop-up duty Monday.

Cole had been designated for assignment by the Nationals April 20, so the Yankees likely claimed him off waivers and then arranged the trade with Washington. The 26-year-old has made four appearances (two starts) in 2018, with a not-so-great 13.06 ERA (10.51 FIP) and a 1.298 OPS against him. He was ranked as the Nationals’ No. 10 prospect prior to the 2016 season, per MLB Pipeline.

With injuries to Luis Cessa, Giovanny Gallegos, Ben HellerTommy Kahnle and Adam Warren, the Yankees found themselves down to just Jonathan Loáisiga (who hasn’t pitched above High-A ball) on the 40-man roster. Cole likely will slide into a role in the front-end of the Yankee bullpen, and could be a spot-starter should the Yankees need one.

Cole is still a pre-arbitration player, so he will make $555,300 for this season when on the MLB roster. He will make less than that if he ever goes to the minor leagues. He is out of minor league options, so the Yankees would have to designate him for assignment and hope to outright him off the 40-man to demote him.

Hale finds himself in DFA-limbo now. The Yankees have 10 days to trade, release or outright him to the minors (if he clears waivers). By my research, he has never been outrighted before and also does not have the service time to decline an outright assignment. Therefore, my prediction is that Hale finds himself back with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre sooner rather than later.

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