Francisco Cordero did all he could do to make the Red Sox on a minor-league contract, throwing eight scoreless innings with an 8/1 K/BB ratio this spring, but the 39-year-old longtime closer has been told that he won’t be on the Opening Day roster.
Alex Speier of WEEI.com reports that the Red Sox offered Cordero a spot in their Triple-A bullpen and he’s debating whether to accept while also shopping around for a big-league offer elsewhere.
Cordero sat out all of last season following shoulder surgery and pitched terribly for the Blue Jays and Astros in 2011, but he’s lost a bunch of weight and showed that he might have a little something left in the tank after saving 329 career games.
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As first reported by beat writer John Tomase of the Boston Herald, the Red Sox have signed veteran right-hander Francisco Cordero to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
Cordero sat out the entire 2013 season after undergoing major shoulder surgery in early April.
He surrendered 61 hits and 35 runs (33 earned) in 39 1/3 innings between the Astros and Blue Jays in 2012 for a WHIP of 2.00 and an ERA of 7.55.
The 38-year-old former Reds closer boasts 329 career saves and a 3.38 career ERA, but it’s doubtful at this point that he makes a positive impact in Boston. He’s probably ticketed for Triple-A Pawtucket.
It just got a little more difficult to manufacture a save record not held by Mariano Rivera.
The 43-year-old picked up his 40th save Tuesday against the White Sox, reaching that plateau for the ninth time in his illustrious career. That ties Trevor Hoffman for the most of all-time. No one else has more than four:
9 – Hoffman, Rivera
4 – Dennis Eckersley, Jose Mesa, Robb Nen, Francisco Rodriguez, John Wetteland
3 – Heath Bell, Armando Benitez, Francisco Cordero, Eric Gagne, Craig Kimbrel, Joe Nathan, Jeff Reardon, Jeff Shaw, Lee Smith, John Smoltz, Jose Valverde
Earlier this year, Rivera passed Hoffman for the lead in 30-save seasons, 15-14. Next on that list is Lee Smith with 10 and Billy Wagner with nine. Among active pitchers, Joe Nathan has eight (including this year) and Jonathan Papelbon seven (not yet including this year).
Rivera and Gagne are also the only relievers with a pair of 50-save seasons.
Now that he’s found a taker for Rafael Soriano on a heavily deferred deal, Scott Boras is trying to get teams interested in ex-Tigers closer Jose Valverde.
Valverde, 34, was 49-for-49 saving games for the Tigers in 2011 and 35-for-40 last season, but the postseason meltdown that saw him give up nine runs in 2 2/3 innings, combined with some declining peripherals from the regular season, has scared away seemingly every team this winter.
Boras knows he can’t use words to sweep away Valverde’s October struggles, but he does cite workload and fatigue as a possible reason for the sudden swoon. Counting the postseason, Valverde appeared in 81 games in 2011 and 75 last season.
“Closers normally have anywhere from 58 to 62 appearances and Valverde’s just had two years where he was used a lot,” Boras told George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press. “It was a very unusual year this year, because he had so many non-save situations. He had like 31 of them, which normally they only have 17 or 18. So, it was a very unusual year.”
Those non-save situations are another thing working against Valverde this winter. He has a history of struggling without a save on the line, so contenders aren’t looking at him as a potential setup man.
Realistically, Valverde is going to have to settle for a cheap one-year deal with a chance to rebuild his value. If he’s willing to sign for $2 million or so, then maybe the Mets, Astros, Marlins or Twins could give him the chance to close. There’s certainly no reason to give him anything more than that, not with Brian Wilson, Francisco Rodriguez, Matt Capps, Jon Rauch and Francisco Cordero all sitting around waiting for phone calls, too.