Veteran right-hander Francisco Cordero was unable to land a ninth-inning gig this past offseason and instead settled for a setup job and a one-year, $4.5 million free agent contract with the Blue Jays.
But he was traded to the Astros as part of Friday morning’s two-team, 10-player swap and has now stumbled back into his more familiar role.
From Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle comes word that Cordero has been named the Astros’ new closer, filling the spot left vacant by Saturday’s Brett Myers trade. It’s another crafty move by ‘Stros GM Jeff Luhnow, who may be able to get a bit of young talent out of the 37-year-old Cordero if he proves capable of retiring batters between now and the August 31 waiver deadline.
Cordero posted a rough 5.60 ERA and 1.75 WHIP in his 35 1/3 innings with Toronto, but lineups in the National League Central are considerably easier to navigate than those in the American League East.
Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.
Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.
Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.