It seems that our focus on free agents and trade opportunities can shift from day to day here. And why not? There are a lot of players to talk about that could fit the Tigers needs. The relatively popular position at the moment we have been talking about on Motor City Bengals is that of relief pitching, and whether or not the Tigers should seek help on the market in that category. I think most of us can agree that an upgrade is probably needed, but as Chris Hannum pointed out in the comments on another article, given the Tigers dynamic right now, it might not be feasible. Still, I trudge ahead into the wee hours of the morning to bring you all a previously unnamed potential target.
I give you all Francisco Cordero.
Cordero, is a 36 year old right hander who has spent many of his 13 years in baseball closing out games for a multitude of teams, including Texas, Milwaukee and Cincinnati. In fact, Cordero at one time was a hot shot prospect in the Tigers system, and became part of the infamous Juan Gonzalez deal with Texas a long time ago. Juan didn’t exactly work out with the Tigers, but Cordero has gone on to carve out a pretty darn good career for himself. In 2011, Cordero did pretty well for himself, saving 37 games and having an ERA of 2.45 in 68 games. It was a nice bounce back after a rough 2010, where he blew 8 games. He blew 6 more in 2011, leading speculation that he could be on the outs in Cincinnati as a closer.
Let me dig a little deeper into Cordero since we are trying to see if he is a viable relief option for the Tigers.
Cordero over the course of his career has racked up 327 saves. His save percentage, however, could be better at 82% over the course of his career. He is certainly not worth the money that he got in the last contract he just finished at 4 years and 45 million dollars. If Cordero is looking for a closers’ job, and he almost assuredly is, as that is his only way to cash in one more time at the end of his career, this discussion about him as a potential acquisition is probably moot. I don’t see him landing a job as a closer anywhere though.
Cordero’s age is more than likely going to stop teams from investing in him on a long term deal. That, and his diminishing abilities. While he did have an ERA that was much nicer in 2011 than 2010, a look at some peripheral numbers suggest that Cordero is better off pitching earlier in games. His BABIP against was a miniscule .214. That number is sure to rise in 2012, and put him more in the ERA range of almost 4 (his FIP was 4.02), which he was at in 2010 (3.84). His home run rate at .78 per game was the highest it’s been since 2006, and his strike out rate was by far the lowest it has ever been in a full season at 5.4 K/9. Cordero, who lives off his fastball, saw a pretty drastic drop in velocity to an average of 93MPH in 2011. It was 94.5 the previous year, and averages 94.5 for his career.
All that being said, Cordero still does get outs consistently enough to be an asset. His ground ball rate went up, and it appears he is getting a little more movement on his pitches as he gets older. Perhaps he is just finding another avenue to get guys out instead of blowing fastballs by them. If his ERA is in the mid to upper threes though, it screams out to me that Cordero is more of a 7th inning type at this point in his career. I just don’t know if Cordero with all of his history as a closer is going to be willing to pitch in another role, and take the salary hit that goes with it.
If the Tigers could get Cordero at 1 year for 4-6M dollars next year, I would probably do it. If it was 5 to 6 million, it would probably be too much, but the Tigers are not only trying to get to the playoffs, they are trying to win a World Series, and Cordero could help as another late game asset.
Who knows? Maybe winning some games in the playoffs and a potential World Series trip will interest Cordero, and he could pitch in a different role.
Somehow, I don’t think that is going to happen though.