Details: Francisco Cordero agrees a four year, $46 million contract with the Reds (with a $12m club option).
Optimist’s argument: The Reds have got to start their rebuilding somewhere and picking up the premium closer on the market (after Rivera) is as good a place as any. Not only will Cordero be a decent upgrade over last year’s closer David Weathers, but it means that Weathers can slide back one position to make for a strong set-up man/closer partnership. Taking him away from one of their NL Central rivals is the icing on the cake.
Pessimist’s argument: Ladies and gentleman, may I introduce you to this year’s Baltimore Orioles. It didn’t work out for the O’s in 2007 and the odds aren’t good for the Reds in 2008. A team this far from contention cannot afford to splurge $46 million on a guy who will pitch around seventy innings in a season. The best you can say is that if Cordero was looking for lucrative â€œsavesâ€ bonuses, the Reds will be saving a bit of money. They won’t be giving him as many opportunities as he enjoyed with the Brewers in 2007.
Voice of Reason: Sadly for Reds fans, the pessimist is correct in this case. Of course this deal improves their bullpen, but what about their hitting and their starting pitching? They are equalling deserving of attention, arguably more so. If you’re on the verge of being a genuine pennant winner, spending this sort of money on a closer just about makes sense. If it pushes you over the line and gets you to the post-season, it’s worth the investment. The NL Central is an open division, but this looks to be an expensive gamble because they still need a lot more than Cordero to bridge the gap. If the Reds do go out and add a couple of starters and a quality bat or two, maybe this opinion will be revised. At the moment, it doesn’t look too clever. And then there’s the Dusty factor: let’s hope he doesn’t pitch Cordero’s arm off.
Wider Impact Rating: 8. While I’m not convinced this has a significant impact on the NL Central race, it undoubtedly has an impact on the market for closers. The Yankees’ proposed deal with Rivera would top this in terms of annual salary, but Mo is a special case. There will be more than a few GMs cursing at the Reds right now: they’ve really hiked up the closer salary bar.