Phil Coke wanted another opportunity to pitch out of a major league bullpen and he may receive one fairly soon. After declining an optional assignment earlier in the week, according to MLive's Chris Iott, Coke signed a minor league deal with the Athletics.
Iott adds Coke will initially pitch with High A Stockton in order to be closer to his home. The deal includes a July 10 opt-out date which might suggest the Athletics are confident Coke can contribute pitching out of their bullpen in the immediate future. Coke became a free agent after tossing just 2.2 innings for the Blue Jays. He has also pitched for the Cubs this season although Chicago released him in May.
Coke, 32, has struggled over 12.2 major league innings this season. He has posted a 5.68 ERA and 4.45 FIP, and although he was averaging 3.55 walks per nine innings and 8.53 strikeouts per nine frames, Coke's 59.0 ground ball percentage could indicate he can bounce back and have success in 2015.
After being released by the Cubs, Toronto signed the veteran left-handed reliever and optioned him to Triple-A. He pitched with Triple-A Buffalo and tossed four scoreless innings before being called upon. Coke reportedly drew interest from as many as ten teams, according to SB Nation's Chris Cotillo, after Chicago opted to move on.
Coke has posted a career 4.21 ERA and has averaged 7.7 strikeouts per nine innings over eight major league seasons with the Yankees, Tigers, and Cubs. Since he made the Cubs' major league roster out of spring training, Coke is due $2.25 million this season.
Coke gives the Athletics additional left-handed relief depth which may prove to beneficial as the club hopes to gain ground in the American League West. Oakland is 34-42 heading into Saturday's contest against the Royals.