Sergio Santos is still a few weeks from returning from a shoulder injury, but Francisco Cordero’s time filling in for him as the Blue Jays’ closer is over now.
Cordero’s latest ugly outing last night involved blowing his third save in five tries, leaving him with a 9.53 ERA, and the Blue Jays have stripped him of closing duties in favor of Casey Janssen.
And it sounds like Cordero has essentially been demoted to mop-up man, with Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com reporting that the Blue Jays will use Jason Frasor, Darren Oliver, and Luis Perez as Janssen’s setup men.
Cordero saved 37 games with a 2.45 ERA for the Reds last season, but his velocity was down and his strikeout rate plummeted to a career-low 5.4 per nine innings. He couldn’t find a closing job as a free agent, settling for a one-year, $4.5 million setup man deal from the Blue Jays.
Janssen has just nine career saves, including no more than two in any of the past four years, but if the first six weeks of this season has taught us anything it’s that being a “proven closer” doesn’t mean a damn thing.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.
Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.
As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.