Red Sox sign closer Cordero to minor league deal: Concerns about Koji?

Sam Galanis
Contributing Writer

The Red Sox made few moves this offseason compared to the rest of the league, but they have certainly done a lot of work to make their already-deep bullpen even deeper. But on Sunday, there was one pickup that may have seemed somewhat surprising: the acquisition of the aging three-time All-Star closer Francisco Cordero to a minor league deal.

Photo courtesy of USATSI
Cordero, who missed all of 2013 due to surgery on his non-throwing shoulder, is the second closer that the Sox have acquired in the offseason (the first being Edward Mujica). So what does this mean for Koji Uehara?

Honestly, probably nothing.

With pitchers, you can almost never be too safe. Due to the enormous amount of stress they put on their bodies, they get hurt often and sometimes simply require extra rest even when they’re not injured. Also, due to Uehara’s age (he’ll be 39 in April), Sox brass are most likely trying to cover their bases (see what I did there?) in the event that something were to happen to him.

As the Boston Herald’s John Tomase reported, “at his best, Cordero was one of the most effective closers in baseball. He averaged 38 saves a year from 2004-11 with the Rangers, Brewers and Reds, averaging over a strikeout an inning during that time.” But the 2012 season saw a sharp decline with Cordero, who finished the season with a 3-8 record and a 7.55 ERA.

Still, John Farrell managed Cordero for part of 2012, and sees some potential.

“He's a guy that's got a lot of experience, back-end,” Farrell said as reported by Tomase. “I have personal familiarity with him from when he was in Toronto. Given some of the numbers in camp, there's been nothing guaranteed to Coco, but a chance to come in and demonstrate what he still has.”

So, the Red Sox still see Uehara as their closer, but everyone needs a little backup. Plus, given the luck they’ve had with closers in recent years (some always-superstitious Sox fans think the position was cursed when the Sox lost Jonathan Papelbon), the Sox probably want to do their best to make sure that position isn’t vulnerable.

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