Home News Yankees Notebook: Bombers add Kirk’s cousin to bullpen after trade with White...

Yankees Notebook: Bombers add Kirk’s cousin to bullpen after trade with White Sox

PHOENIX — The Yankees made a minor trade on Sunday, acquiring right-hander Jake Cousins from the White Sox. The reliever isn’t the only pro athlete in his family, as he’s the cousin of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Kirk Cousins.

The Yankees didn’t have to turn over much in the trade, only sending cash considerations to Chicago. On Monday, Cousins – the pitcher – was added to the Bombers’ bullpen.

“I know our guys are really excited about him, from scouts to the front office, analysts,” Aaron Boone said. “Feel like we got a talented guy that hopefully there’s some still untapped things that we get into. But I know we like his talent.”

Left-hander Tanner Tully was designated for assignment to make space for Cousins, who owns a 3.08 ERA over 51 major league games. All of those outings came with the Brewers.

Cousins, 29, spent most of last season struggling in the minors with Milwaukee and Houston. However, he recorded a 2.70 ERA over 42 big league games from 2021-2022 after pitching in independent leagues in 2019 and 2020.

Like a lot of the Yankees’ unheralded bullpen pickups, Cousins relies primarily on a slider-sinker combo. He also has a mid-90s fastball. That arsenal has netted him a 31.4% strikeout rate and a 50.4% groundball rate.

“Good slider, good sinker. Fits our profile,” pitching coach Matt Blake told the Daily News. “And then I think we can help him a little bit with just some of the visuals for throwing strikes. He had made some progress in spring training already. Velo had been up, strikes had been a little better, so hopefully something that can fit in our model a little bit.”

While the Yankees like the stuff, various injuries, including shoulder and elbow issues, have hindered Cousins in recent years. He still has a minor league option, which gives the team some roster flexibility.


After missing out on the Dodgers’ Yoshinobu Yamamoto, the Yankees have their eyes on another Japanese ace.

The pinstripers were one of several teams in attendance at Roki Sasaki’s 2024 debut for the Chiba Lotte Marines, according to multiple reports out of Japan. That’s not surprising, as the Yankees have a strong foothold there, and the 22-year-old Sasaki is expected to command Yamamoto levels of attention ahead of his eventual positing.

“I’ve seen some film on him,” Blake said. “Really good athlete, really live arm. Obviously a really intriguing prospect based on just the tools he has. It will be interesting to see how he continues to evolve as a pitcher, but obviously an exciting prospect.”

It’s unclear when exactly Sasaki will be posted, as the righty wanted to go through the process this past offseason. The Marines denied that request.

Sasaki’s desire to get out of Japan sooner than later will cost him financially if realized. Because he is under 25 and has less than six professional seasons of experience, he would only be eligible for a minor league deal, which would count toward a team’s international bonus pool money. Sasaki would also find himself under club control for six seasons before getting the chance to test free agency in the states.

That rule limited Shohei Ohtani, then 23, to a $2.315 million signing bonus when he joined the Angels in 2017.

The Mets, Dodgers and Cardinals were also among the eight teams that reportedly attended Sasaki’s recent start. He’s been brilliant over his three-year career, recording a 1.90 ERA and 395 strikeouts over 303.2 innings.


Tommy Kahnle’s 2023 season ended with shoulder inflammation, which put him behind schedule this spring. Now he’s been delayed again, as he didn’t bounce back as well as expected from a recent live outing.

Boone said that the oft-injured reliever is still throwing – he did so over the last two days – but there are no plans for a rehab assignment in place just yet.


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