Did Yankees just steal hidden gem reliever in tiny trade with White Sox?

Why would the White Sox give the Yankees a lifeline here?

Chicago White Sox Photo Day
Chicago White Sox Photo Day / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

The New York Yankees have acquired reliever Jake Cousins from the Chicago White Sox, but it's not his White Sox career for which the right-hander is most notable.

It's Cousins' time on the mound with the Brewers in 2021 and 2022 that makes him worth watching -- and also makes a person wonder why a team like Chicago, in the dregs of the AL Central, wouldn't wait and see what they had with Cousins rather than trade him to the Yankees (for straight cash) prior to him making a single appearance in their uniform.

To answer your resulting first question, no! Cousins is not midway through Tommy John rehab like JT Brubaker. He's healthy, but spent most of 2023 in the minors where he (yes) posted a 6.35 ERA in 29 games. If he were flawless, he wouldn't currently be on the trade block. But there's something here.

The sinker-slider specialist also happened to strike out 43 in just 28 1/3 minor-league innings last year, consistent with his output in Milwaukee, when he whiffed 65 men in 43 1/3 innings across two seasons. He also posted identical 2.70 ERAs in each of his 2021-22 stints.

Again, why trade him now? Why not wait until the deadline after raising his value somewhat? The White Sox loss is the Yankees' gain. Thanks!

New York Yankees acquire ex-Brewers (and White Sox?) reliever Jake Cousins

And yes, Jake Cousins just so happens to be cousins with Kirk Cousins. Enjoy uncorking that fun fact at Easter Dinner, if you haven't left yet. Or turn back! There's still time!

Now, Cousins only has one option remaining, so the Yankees have to use it wisely. They'll likely be stashing him at Triple-A for quite a while (he's on a minor-league deal), and when/if he's promoted, he'd better either stick or struggle too much to latch on elsewhere.

Hopefully, it's the former. The Yankees have officially bought themselves a "use in case of emergency" reliever for cash only, and have a chance to call on a swing-and-miss arm instead of, say, Tanner Tully if they need a midseason talent infusion with big-league experience.

Oh, right. And Cousins was actually in the Astros system last season, toiling for the Sugar Land Space Cowboys, so count Houston among those who had control of Cousins and fumbled the bag. Could be extra sweet if he pans out in New York.

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