According to Ken Rosenthal, former Washington Nationals closer Chad Cordero has inked a minor league deal with the Seattle Mariners, turning down more lucrative offers elsewhere due to their vacant savers slot. Cordero has had quite the interesting career thus far, combining several elements that would lead to a player flying under the radar: playing for a bad team, posting good but not great numbers, and being bitten by the injury bug. However, with J.J. Putz donning a New York Mets uniform this season and Aaron Heilman leaving for the Cubs soonafter joining the Ms relief corps, Cordero will likely have as good a shot as any to fill the closers void.
I remember first seeing Cordero in 2003, when he managed to fan four Phillies hitters in 1.2 innings while throwing virtually all average fastballs. He pitched 12 games that season, with a 1.64 ERA/2.85 FIP. Of course it’s a small sample but he looked more than capable of succeeding as a reliever. Over the next four seasons, Cordero’s ERA vastly outdid his success rate via controllable skills, but he realistically put together three very effective seasons. Relievers generally do not contribute that much in the win values column but Cordero appeared to be more than serviceable.
He still throws an extreme amount of fastballs, which would be fine if they impressed the radar guns, but Chad tops out at around 91-92 mph and averages closer to 89 mph. His offspeed offerings are not all that impressive which goes a long way towards explaining the fastball frequency. While the normal recommendation would involve incorporating the offspeed portion of his repertoire more often, his injury will likely cause him to favor the fastball that much more.
Still, Cordero is only 26 yrs old, and has proven himself capable of missing a good amount of bats, stranding a well above average percentage of runners, and exhibiting signs of solid control. Removing the small samples of his rookie season and injury plagued 2008 and Cordero is much more of a flyball pitcher, which may bode well for him given the defensive prowess of the Mariners outfield alignment this season.
The deal is so solid for the Mariners and GM Jack Zduriencik that it really does not even merit discussion here. They signed a reliever who could be just as effective as the Beimel/Ohman/Reyes/Springer-types, for a non guaranteed minor league deal. If he has recovered from his ailments, something which Zduriencik feels has occurred, then Cordero should have no problem joining the ranks of the bullpen and potentially working his way into the closers role. The injury to Brandon Morrow may be a bit more severe than initially reported, perhaps pushing him into the role of reliever once more, which could have an effect on Cordero’s status, but that remains to be seen.
What we do know, however, is that the Mariners have made tremendous upgrades this season, putting themselves in a position to sneak up on opponents this season and win moving forward. Cordero is the most recent in a long line of impressive moves from Jack Zduriencik and would be my pre-season prediction for the best low-risk/high-reward pitching move of the offseason.
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