Cordero, Orr, Wagner Become FAs; Pena Exercises Option
Four Washington roster moves to report today:
* P CHAD CORDERO -- filed for free agency, after the Nationals outrighted him to Class AAA Syracuse
* P RYAN WAGNER -- filed for free agency, after the Nationals outrighted him to Class AAA Syracuse
* INF PETE ORR -- filed for free agency, after the Nationals outrighted him to Class AAA Syracuse
* OF WILY MO PENA -- exercised his option on a one-year $2 million deal for 2009, after the club rejected its own $5 million option
Of the four players involved here, three (Cordero, Wagner and Pena) are coming back from major shoulder surgeries. So it's almost fitting that these moves are made in bulk: Indeed, following a season consumed by injuries, the Nationals have begun the process of determining where those injured players will attempt their comebacks.
The big question here is whether Cordero's career with Washington is over. For three solid years (2005-2007), you could certainly argue that the Chief was the face of this franchise. He made the all star game in '05, the first year baseball was back in DC. He saved 47 games that year. He became Washington's first star -- and he was also paid like one. Cordero made $6.2 million in 2008, a contract that made this severing of ties much-anticipated. No team can pay a pitcher recovering from labrum surgery such a hefty sum -- and arbitration (for which Cordero would have been eligible) could have reduced that salary to nothing less than $4.9 million for 2009.
The timing of this move with Cordero works favorably for both parties. By allowing Cordero (and the others) to become a free agent now, Washington opens space on its 40-man roster, where it can now protect more prospects from the December 11 Rule 5 Draft. (Had Washington "non-tendered" Cordero, it would have happened on December 12, the MLB deadline for tendering contracts.) Plus, the timing of this move gives Cordero more time to shop around, check out his options.
Washington, it seems, will look into offering Cordero a minor league contract heavy with incentives. Cordero has said he'll be ready to pitch by spring training, but he's up against a serious challenge: Labrum surgery is about as serious as it gets for a pitcher. Just ask Wagner. He had his surgical reconstruction performed in June 2007, and he still hasn't made it back to the big leagues.
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