Longtime closer Francisco Cordero “more than happy” to be setup man for Blue Jays

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Francisco Cordero saved 37 games with a 2.45 ERA for the Reds last season, but then found himself in perhaps the biggest buyer’s market for veteran relievers in the history of free agency this offseason and ended up settling for a one-year, $4.5 million deal with the Blue Jays.

Oh, and he’ll be a setup man in Toronto too. And the 37-year-old three-time All-Star with 327 career saves said yesterday that he’s just fine with the new role:

They explained to me what my role is going to be, I agreed to it, and I’ll be more than happy to do it. I will be the setup guy, I’ve been that before. I have to treat the eighth inning like the ninth and get us to Santos.

“Santos” is Sergio Santos, who was acquired from the White Sox and handed closing duties months before Cordero fell into the Blue Jays’ lap. Santos has fewer career saves than Cordero had in 2011 alone, but he’ll enter the season with ninth-inning duties. Of course, that doesn’t mean Cordero won’t be looming in the background to take over the gig should Santos falter.

As for the reliever logjam that led to Cordero settling for a modest one-year deal and no closing job, he explained:

I thought the market would be a little better. My agent spoke with a lot of teams, like Cincinnati and some others. I’ll pitch for one year and who knows? And who knows what will take place during the course of the season?

It’s also worth noting that several reports had Cordero turning down a two-year, $14 million offer to return to the Reds early on this offseason, in which case he had an opportunity to escape the buyer’s market with a nice multi-year commitment and overplayed his hand.

Phillies considering Chase Utley for bench coach

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Sports radio personality Howard Eskin is hearing a fun rumor that the Philadelphia Phillies are considering Chase Utley to be their bench coach.

Utley hasn’t retired yet, but he is almost 39, is a free agent and is unlikely to find anything beyond a bench role at best at this point. Time for a career change? Who knows, as this popping up over Thanksgiving makes it hard to confirm or deny one way or the other. It’s fun to think about, though. Over the past four or five years, as Utley’s production has declined, he has been widely praised as a good clubhouse presence and mentor, so it would not be hard to imagine him transitioning into a formal coaching role.

Utley, of course, played for the Phillies for thirteen seasons. If he’s going to break into coaching, he’s most likely to do it there.