Originally posted on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 1/24/12

On the heels of giving starter Brandon Morrow an extension, the Blue Jays struck again, signing free agent reliever Francisco Cordero to a one year, $4.5 million contract. After spending the last eight years closing for the Rangers, Brewers and Red, Cordero will be heading to a set-up role for newly acquired Toronto closer Sergio Santos.

After some fantastic years in his prime (six straight years worth at least 1.4 fWAR), Cordero has struggled in recent times with the Reds, combining to accrue just 2.8 fWAR over the life of his four year contract. 2011 was by far the worst year of his career, being worth just 0.1 fWAR with a career low 5.43 strikeout rate. Cordero's 2.45 ERA was a mirage, a creation of his .214 BABIP and a career best 82.3% strand rate. But there were signs that Cordero had changed his approach in 2011: his 2.84 walk rate was his lowest since 2002, and his 50% groundball rate was a career best.

The Blue Jays don't plan on shoehorning Cordero into a role for which he's not fit, and I think that's a very good thing. As the primary set-up man for Santos, he won't be counted on at the end of every close game to shut the opposition down. I think $4.5 million is a little too much, but if he's able to up his strikeout rate, I think Cordero can be a much more effective pitcher and come close to the one-win guy that Toronto is paying him as. Even if the deal doesn't work out, it's a small investment. But this shows that Toronto is clearing paying attention to their bullpen, when you also consider the trade for Santos and the trade to bring former Blue Jay Jason Frasor back into the fold. And guess what, if Toronto struggles out of the gate and is trailing heavily in the standings come July, they can sell of some of these bullpen pieces in an attempt to get anything attractive back. Or, they can hope Frasor and Cordero get them compensation picks this offseason.

I'm really not seeing a downside in this signing, because Toronto isn't paying Cordero as a closer. In comparison to some of the other reliever signings this winter (Matt Capps comes to mind), this hardly looks egregious.

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This article first appeared on The Outside Corner and was syndicated with permission.

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