Sleeved, slick: Cordero has a power arm that is too good to let slip away. / @ChicagoSports
At 27 years old, it’s safe to say that Jimmy Cordero has been an MLB journeyman.
In 2012, Toronto signed him as an international free agent, and following his first stint with the Blue Jays, Cordero was sent to the Philadelphia Phillies in July 2015for outfielder Ben Revere.
That wouldn’t spell the end of trades that listed Cordero’s name. In 2016, he was traded once again, as he was sent to the Washington Nationals in exchange for another minor league pitcher. Finally, it seemed like he found a home for himself, as Cordero was able to settle in and make his way to the majors for his debut with Washington in 2018.
With the Nationals in 2018, Cordero appeared in 22 games, with a 5.68 ERA, 12 strikeouts and 12 walks in 19 innings. He was allowing nearly two batters to reach base each frame, giving himself a WHIP of 1.84. After Cordero earned the opportunity to show what he could do at the major league level, he failed to make the most of it.
This year, Cordero began his season with the Nationals, only to be designated for assignment and claimed by the Blue Jays in May. He made his Blue Jays debut in 2019, but was designated for assignment just eight days after he was claimed. His one appearance with the Blue Jays was a rough one, and the club must have felt like there wasn’t much Cordero could do for them.
Seattle claimed Cordero at the end of May, shortly after he was DFA’d by the Blue Jays, and he was assigned to Double-A. He appeared in just one game during his time with the Mariners, where he walked four batters in a scoreless two-thirds of an inning. His Mariners career wouldn’t last long, as the White Sox made a move to claim Cordero on June 7.
After being claimed by the White Sox, Cordero was assigned to the Charlotte Knights and seemed to be getting on the right track. In 13 games with the Knights, Cordero owned a 0.51 ERA with 14 strikeouts and just two walks in 17.2 IP. The White Sox obviously liked what they saw when they claimed him, feeling like he deserved another look at the major league level after seeing what he did in Triple-A.
And here we are now, with Cordero is seeing his first extended action at the major league level since the end of 2018. In 2019, Cordero currently has a 4.26 ERA with 26 strikeouts and seven walks in 25.1 IP. Since the last time he saw extended action, Cordero has seen his ERA drop 142 points, has doubled his strikeouts and walked fewer batters while already surpassing his IP total from 2018. His 1.11 WHIP is the lowest of his career, by a wide margin.
Cordero is a fastball-heavy reliever who can touch triple digits and make it look effortless. His fastball comes in at an average of 97.5 mph. He also has a changeup, as well as a slider and cutter that we don’t see as often as the other two pitches. Cordero’s changeup averages 88.5 mph, giving him almost a 10 mph dropoff from his heater.
While Cordero is bringing the heat every time he steps up on the mound and getting better at limiting his walks, he’s also not giving up a ton of hard contact — opposing hitters have an average exit velocity of just 85.1 mph. On top of that, of the 67 batted balls Cordero has allowed this season, only four were barrels.
For a guy who has struggled with control throughout his career, it seems like Cordero is starting to figure things out. A big reason for that might be that he feels comfortable in Chicago, where he has been able to get some consistent experience. As a result, Cordero currently has a 9.8 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 as a member of the White Sox organization.
It’s still to be determined if Cordero can keep up this improved play. However, his emergence this year has definitely been a bright spot for the big league club, and it would be wise to give him another shot next season. If Cordero wants to have a bullpen role down the line, he will obviously have to continue to earn it, but for now he deserves another opportunity with the White Sox.
Cordero is not a free agent until 2025, so keeping him around could give the White Sox a cheap bullpen arm with an ability to light up the radar gun. Throughout the farm system, there have been quite a few injuries to bullpen arms this year, and in years past. With such uncertainty, it wouldn’t hurt to give Cordero another chance, at the very least.
Whether that opportunity involves being a regular member of the pitching staff at the major league level, or even spending time with Charlotte’s staff as more prospects make their way to the majors, Cordero has the potential to be a valuable piece either way.
He’s had a tough and interesting journey to make it to this point. As he gets older and becomes more of a “veteran,” Cordero can share his wisdom and knowledge with the younger arms about what it takes to make it to the MLB, and help them out during the process.
Cost-friendly, flamethrowing bullpen arms are not always easy to find. Taking into account the improvements he’s made from 2018, Cordero should continue to have a role with the organization moving forward, a role he’s earned.
Not to mention, if there’s ever a point where a bench-clearing brawl is about to go down, Cordero is one player I would definitely want on my side.