In MLB, roster spots are an extremely valuable commodity. They shouldn’t be given to anybody. When the New York Yankees protected reliever Jimmy Cordero by adding him to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft a few months ago, a few people were surprised. Time will probably prove the Yanks right in this case, and the pitcher is already showing why they opted to keep him.
The Yankees signed Cordero to a minor league contract before the 2022 season after he missed 2021 while he was recovering from Tommy John surgery.
When he returned in 2022, he was marvelous: in Triple-A Scranton, he had a 2.09 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and a 50/13 K/BB ratio in 38.2 innings.
He is another product of the Yankees “lab,” which is essentially a bunch of talented people like Sam Briend and Matt Blake, making spectacular use of their pitching smarts and cutting-edge machines and resources to put together the best plan for getting the most out of Cordero’s arm talent.
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The Yankees created another nasty reliever:
Cordero has pitched two innings. He has faced eight hitters and struck out four, for a really nice 50 percent strikeout rate. Of course, the sample size is tiny, but if you watch him pitch, you know there is sustainability in this.
He attacks hitters with a wicked sinker-slider combination: the former comes at 98-99 mph with incredible horizontal movement, and the latter is just nasty at 87-88 mph. It kind of looks like Jonathan Loaisiga-lite, which is absolutely ideal.
Cordero is 31 years old, so he is not exactly a prospect. However, considering the Yankees got him on a cheap minor league deal a little more than a year ago and made him a viable, reliable bullpen option, the return on investment is enormous.