Jays Make Cordero Signing, Budget Bullpen Official

GM Alex Anthopoulos and the Blue Jays have made their deal with former Reds, Brewers, and Rangers closer Francisco Cordero — to a one-year deal worth $4.5 million — official, reports Jon Heyman of CBS.

A successful high-leverage reliever at one point, who struck out more than 25% of batters faced every season between 2003 and 2008, Cordero’s velocity — and with it, his performance — has declined in recent seasons. Last season, with his fastball velocity having dropped to 93.0 mph per PITCHf/x — from 95.0 mph in 2009, for example — Cordero posted his worst strikeout rate (15.3%) since 2000 and second-worst xFIP- (108). His fastball usage from last season — at a career low 37.4%, per PITCHf/x — reflects Cordero’s changed approach.

However, the deal is notable less for the specifics regarding Cordero (about whom Jim Breen wrote last week) and more for what it represents in terms of the Blue Jays’ capacity for rebuilding a bullpen that was entirely gutted by the end of last season after a trade that saw Octavio Dotel, Jason Frasor, and Marc Rzepczynski go to St. Louis and Chicago variously for center fielder Colby Rasmus.

This offseason, Toronto has traded for Sergio Santos (due just $1 million), reacquired Frasor ($3.75 million), signed Darren Oliver ($4.5 million), and now Cordero. That’s almost an entire bullpen for just under $14 million — i.e. only slightly more than what Jonathan Papelbon will be making per annum for the next four years. As Alex Lewin demonstrated in a piece from late November, the risk associated with that sort of long-term reliever contract generally doesn’t merit the potential rewards. The Blue Jays are clearly proceeding with that notion in mind.

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i agree.