Brewers sign lefty reliever Cotts to one-year deal

Relief pitcher Neal Cotts went 10-12 with a 2.84 ERA in 131 appearances with the Rangers over the last two seasons.

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The Milwaukee Brewers have agreed to a one-year, $3 million contract with free-agent left-hander Neal Cotts, FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal has confirmed.

Despite his history of injuries, Cotts passed his physical with the Brewers on Thursday, according to Rosenthal. The club is expected to officially announce the signing Friday.

Cotts joins the Brewers after spending the past two seasons as a member of the Texas Rangers. The 34-year-old went 10-12 with a 2.84 ERA in 131 appearances with the Rangers, but his ERA jumped from 1.11 in 2013 to 4.32 in 2014.

Selected by Oakland in the second round of the 2001 first-year player draft, Cotts made his major-league debut with the Chicago White Sox in 2003.

He pitched parts of four seasons out of the bullpen for the White Sox before he was traded to the Chicago Cubs prior to the 2007 season. Cotts posted a 4.97 ERA in 48 games over three years with the Cubs, battling numerous injuries along the way.

Cotts underwent Tommy John surgery on his left elbow in 2009 and has had four surgeries on his right hip since 2010.

The Yankees released Cotts in 2011 after a failed physical, but he received another chance when Texas signed him to a minor-league contract in February of 2012. He spent all of 2012 in Triple-A after a strained left lat muscle during the final week of spring training cost him a chance at earning a spot in Texas’ bullpen.

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Cotts began 2013 in Triple-A but was called up to the big leagues in late May. He ended up going 8-3 with a 1.11 ERA in 58 relief appearances for the Rangers, striking out 63 batters and walking 23 in 57 innings.

A bad ending to last season inflated his ERA to 4.32 in 2014. Cotts had a 3.36 ERA on Aug. 24 but allowed 11 earned runs over his last 11 1/3 innings.

Cotts will likely join Will Smith as the two left-handed relievers in Milwaukee’s bullpen. The Brewers lost left-handers Zach Duke and Tom Gorzelanny in free agency and plan to use Smith in a late-innings role, leaving a need for an additional lefty.

Right-handed hitters have hit .237 against Cotts in his career, while left-handed hitters hold a .248 batting average. In his dominant 2013 season, lefties hit .204 and righties hit .157.

The Brewers now have five relievers who seem like a safe bet to make the Opening Day roster, if healthy, as Cotts joins Smith, Jonathan Broxton, Jeremy Jeffress and Brandon Kintzler.

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