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.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Cubs won’t deal Kyle Schwarber this winter, despite multiple inquires from teams around the league. Schwarber is approaching his first year of arbitration and will remain under team control for another three seasons before reaching free agency in 2022.
The decision comes on the heels of one of the strongest seasons of the 25-year-old outfielder’s short career. Over 137 games and 510 PA for the Cubs, he proved a passable defender in left field and batted .238/.356/.467 with 26 home runs, an .823 OPS, and 3.2 fWAR in 2018. He also led the National League in intentional walks, with 20, and bumped up his total walks from 59 in 2017 to 78.
Despite his marked improvements from previous years, Schwarber’s performance still left something to be desired — specifically against left-handed pitchers, who held the slugger to a paltry .224/.352/.303 with four extra-base hits across 91 PA. Still, it’s evident the Cubs feel Schwarber is capable of strengthening his splits in the years to come, and they might stand to get more value from him on the field than they would in a trade this offseason.
Of course, that’s not to say the Cubs intend to pass the Winter Meetings in total silence, especially as they’ll be seeking bullpen and catching depth in advance of their 2019 run at the division title. As club president Theo Epstein remarked last week, “We’re certainly open and active in trade talks with a lot of deals that usually don’t come to fruition. So, we may make some trades. We could make big ones that transform the roster. We may make smaller complementary ones. But there’s certain things we’d like to accomplish.”