Even at a cursory glance, Reds closer Francisco Cordero's $12MM 2012 club option stands out as one of the likeliest to be declined. That's not a jab at Cordero or the season he's put together; in fact, he's quietly enjoying a campaign that ranks among his finest: 31 saves, a 2.34 ERA and 0.96 WHIP entering Thursday's action.
Cordero will turn 37 next May, however, which represents the greatest obstacle to his hefty option being exercised. And although his surface stats indicate he's still plugging along in prime form, the peripherals suggest things aren't so rosy.
Cordero's strikeout rate has dipped each of the past four seasons, all the way down to a single-season career low of 5.69 K/9 in 2011. He's managed to limit his walks to a respectable 2.48 BB/9, and his groundball rate has spiked up to nearly 52 percent, but if you put all of this in the xFIP blender, it churns out an ugly 3.91 figure. SIERA is a bit kinder at 3.49, but either number still suggests the ERA may be a product of some good fortune.
For his part, Cordero seems to be angling for a new deal with the Reds, according to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, implicitly conceding that the option is likely a no-go:
“I want to stay here,” he said, “whether they pick up the option or try to work something out. They’ve got a decision to make. I’m willing to negotiate a new deal.”
Between his age, subtle decline, and the wealth of closers on the free-agent market this offseason, Cordero and his representatives at Proformance won't have much negotiating leverage, whether that be with the Reds or another team. Considering he'll be shopping his services for his ages 37 and 38 seasons, he'd do well to get a two-year deal with a total value in the $8-10MM range, although I could just as easily see him settling for one year in in a buyer's market.
As for Cordero's potential suitors, it's too soon to start guessing about the closer carousel, but I think the Reds could find a home for him. They're still undecided about Aroldis Chapman's role, and Nick Masset and Logan Ondrusek profile more as workhorse setup types.