According to Ken Rosenthal, the Toronto Blue Jays have signed former Cincinnati Reds closer Francisco Cordero to a one year deal worth $4.5 million. He will be expected to set up for Sergio Santos.

Over the last ten years, only Mariano Rivera has collected more saves than Cordero. That’s a remarkable fact, but unfortunately for the Toronto Blue Jays, it isn’t nearly as predictive of a statistic as the annual declines in the reliever’s strikeout rate since 2006. It’s also not as predictive as a four-seam fastball whose velocity has dropped two miles per hour since 2009. And it’s certainly not as predictive as Cordero’s demonstrated fear of throwing that fastball last year, as it went from comprising 63% of his pitches to a mere 37%.

A quick glimpse at his low WHIP and ERA from last season might sway a surface looker into believing that I’m being unfairly harsh in my judgement of Cordero, but in explanation, I would point them toward his insanely low .214 BABIP as evidence of those numbers having a lot more to do with luck than anything that Cordero was throwing.

Furthermore, over the last two seasons, Cordero has pitched significantly worse against left handed batters. If this trend continues, his value to the team decreases even further, and he’ll basically become Octavio Dotel with a worse fastball.

Now, it’s true that the Blue Jays somehow managed to flip Dotel as part of a package that brought back Colby Rasmus last season, but hoping for lightning to strike twice in this case seems foolish.

In the grand scheme of things, $4.5 million isn’t a whole lot of money. It just seems as though Cordero is an odd place to push those funds when a reliever like Jason Frasor will most likely end up having a far better season for less money. But perhaps, the signing is most disappointing to Blue Jays fans because it likely precludes Toronto from trying to acquire Koji Uehara from the Texas Rangers.

Comments (54)


  2. JeHEEsus, you guys are earning your money today!

  3. Same day as Fielder……I can already hear the butthurt Jays fans screaming.

  4. Wow, when was the last time he made *only* $4.5mil / season?

  5. Overpaying for set-up men over 35 is the new market inefficiency…?

  6. I guess Uehara’s no-trade clause did have the Jays on it.

    I’m down for this. We are building a pen to withstand all and any bulls…including BJ Ryan.

  7. Head scratcher here….if you were going to dump 4 into Coco, why not just trade for Uehara??

  8. Over……..paying?

  9. Overpaying in money is better than paying in prospects for Uehara, though I think Uehara is better. Makes for a decent bullpen, and it suggests that the Jays see last season’s blown saves as a major concern.

  10. interesting. very interesting.

  11. I’m sure AA is banking on the fact that contending teams will give up valuable assets at the trade deadline for bullpen arms, ala the Colby Rasmus deal.

    The market inefficiency of the last minute shopper, if you will.

    • I take that to mean you think AA goes into the season with no intention of being a contender? Me too.


  13. He has to be worth less than one marginal win for that to be overpaying. And I just looked at his numbers over the past couple years and… Yikes. 5.4 K/9 last year? At the end of the day, there really is no such thing as a bad one-year contract, but this one seems to be a bit of a puzzler. However, it does bear noting that nothing is more over-valued at the deadline than bullpen help, so that’s probably part of AA’s game here (as with the Oliver signing, and Dotel last year).

  14. Only explanation for us assembling an excellent bullpen:

    Kyle Drabek is going to make the starting rotation.

  15. I like this signing. Rolid pen so that the pen blows less games (hopefully). The pen collectively blew quite a few games, if the pen as a whole is good though = less blown games. It’s all about less blowing.

  16. My thoughts exactly. Amass a number of quality arms, allow them to save your young rotation all year long, then deal them to get better at the end of the season. These 1 year deals have value – especially as AA has been hamstrung in draft spending.

  17. Potential to be another Jon Rauch signing. Don’t get it when there’s equally good options in Carreno, Beck or others in the minors.

    • Equally good options? They are in the minors for a reason. I would pay with Rogers money for insurance not minor league funds.

      • Carreno for example. Some of the guys in the minors are there only for lack of opportunity. Maybe he’ll package Litsch or Villanueva off for an upgrade elsewhere, who knows?

    • Definitely could be another Rauch.

      But if so, it’s only money.

  18. Hopefully Cordero will be a minor piece in a mid-season Rasmus-esque deal with Atlanta that brings Jason Heyward to Toronto.

  19. nothing wrong with going against the grain. take any assets available and trade from strength.

    gives young guys a chance to gradually move up. no harm done.

  20. I posted this over at DJF, but Disqus fucked it up so extremely that I’ll try again, here.

    Please read this:

    So, troubling trend. Sharp decline in K rate for a few seasons now. So he’s done, right? Well, maybe not.

    Here are some things that happened with Cordero in 2011:
    - Cordero’s non-reliance on his fastball in 2011 — only threw it around 40% of the time, among the lowest compared to similar relievers — while he threw it about 66% of the time in 2010
    - Concurrent addition of a new breaking pitch, a curveball (used 10% of the time)
    - Spike in ground ball rate (up 7% to a very-good 50%)
    - Improvement in K-rate among lefties, likely due to an increased reliance on the changeup, which went from 6.8% to 18.8% of his repertoire.
    - Decrease in BABIP to an unsustainably low .214, compared with .294 for his career.
    - Purportedly good infield defense in Cincinnati last year.

    So, maybe this is a guy who’s reinvented himself as a off-speed guy who can keep balls on the ground and pitch effectively to lefties (along with Casey Janssen, as the non-lefthanded, non-Oliver, part-time second lefty specialist). And he still averaged 93 mph on his fastball, which isn’t too shabby. As a reinvented pitcher he had some unsustainable success last year (see BABIP and infield defense), but 1.5 WAR, if used properly, isn’t out of the question.

    Many of the commenters on FanGraphs seem to concur that he became a different pitcher last year. A repeat of that for a half a season and that’s some serious mid-year trade bait.

    I like this signing a lot. Good value, low risk, potentially decent reward

  21. Griff is going to be so pumped now that they have an ESTABLISHED closer. That’s all you really need.

  22. I love this move, as alot of you have already mentioned it just sets up AA to make a move at the trade deadline or prior to that would allow him to trade pieces of our now stacked pen like he did last year to get Rasmus.

    Love the Heyward trade suggestion. If Atlanta is in it and need relief pitching like every NL team values going into the playoffs then I can see a deal go down for sure. Package all or some of Cordero, Oliver, even Frasor with some B level prospects and then allow the young arms (McGuire, Beck, Hutchinson) to get some bullpen experience when we aim for true contention in 2013 with a nice piece from this potential trade. I know it’s assuming Cordero and Oliver for example have good enough seasons that they hold rental value but toss in Drabek if he has fallen off and a decent positional player and you got yourself a nice piece coming back.

    Wish this was the year, but alot of things have to go the Jays way to make the playoffs. The day it does happen though

  23. This isn’t the Koji Uehara trade that I wanted at all.

    Signing Cordero makes little sense, really. He seems to have been acquired in order to trade him for something down the road, but he has to actually have some value in order for AA to do that. Considering his decline over the last few years and his move to the AL East, he looks like this year’s Rauch. Let’s just hope Farrell doesn’t overuse him based on reputation alone over far superior relievers like Janssen, Oliver, and Frasor.

  24. “Now, it’s true that the Blue Jays somehow managed to flip Dotel as part of a package that brought back Colby Rasmus last season, but hoping for lightning to strike twice in this case seems foolish.”

    Perhaps you may be underestimating AA’s ability for Jedi mind-tricks.

  25. Lightning struck twice with unloading the Rios and Wells contracts

    • Are people really griping about $4.5M for Cordero?

      It’s not your money. He’s better than other options (remember Heath Bell). We can actually trade him to acquire other, younger pieces. He will probably be a Type A free agent meaning coveted (AA’s thinking…not mine) compensation picks. Insurance for our crappy back-end rotation.

      People should be more outraged at Morrow’s egregious $7M per season. Seriously.

  26. @JD comp system changed remember? No more type A,B picks. I seriously doubt we’d be offering him a 12m 1 year deal to obtain comp next offseason.

    • Oh yeah. The “AA Rule” was put into effect. Whatever, we can try trading him to some playoff-bound team that needs an arm if we are out of it.

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