Blue Jays sign Dotel to one-year contract
Toronto adds to bullpen depth by also acquiring Cordero
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays added a veteran presence to their bullpen Tuesday afternoon by signing right-hander Octavio Dotel to a one-year contract.
Dotel will receive $3 million in 2011 with a club option for '12 worth $3.5 million. Toronto also announced the signing of former All-Star closer Chad Cordero to a Minor League contract with an invite to Spring Training.
Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said Dotel will enter Spring Training with a chance to compete for the closer's job, but Anthopoulos added that Dotel hasn't been promised a specific role with the organization.
"Octavio realizes that we're going to continue to try to improve our team any way that we can, and if that means acquiring somebody else in the bullpen, he's fine with that," Anthopoulos said. "That being said, he has been promised the chance to compete for the opportunity to close.
"Right now, with his experience and his recent track record, and what he has done, he's going to be the front-runner. ... But it's going to be up to John Farrell to ultimately make the decision of who's going to close for this team."
Dotel posted a 4.08 ERA and 22 saves with the Pirates, Dodgers and Rockies in 2010. He experienced a decline in velocity, but he still throws in the low-to-mid-90s and recorded 75 strikeouts in 64 innings last season.
His signing should help ease the loss of right-hander Kevin Gregg, who signed a two-year deal worth a reported $10 million with the Orioles on Tuesday. Gregg recorded a career-high 37 saves in 2010 while posting a 2-6 record with a 3.51 ERA, but at times struggled with his control. Since Gregg was a Type B free agent, Toronto will receive a supplemental pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.
While Dotel will enter Spring Training as the early favorite for the closer's role, he will receive competition from right-hander Jason Frasor, who has 36 career saves. It's a similar situation to 2010, when Gregg eventually won the job over Frasor and left-hander Scott Downs.
Anthopoulos said he feels better about his bullpen after signing Dotel, but it remains to be seen how it will work out in 2011.
"I don't know that you're ever completely satisfied with your bullpen, because it's probably one of the most volatile areas in the game and one of the hardest to predict," Anthopoulos said.
"But the fact that Octavio's had the success that he has had, and he has done it year in and year out -- [he] will pitch in any role for us and be willing to help the team in any way that he can -- we feel that it's a signing that will certainly help our club."
The 28-year-old Cordero appeared in just nine Major League games in 2010. The California native also made 34 appearances in the Minor Leagues, posting a 1-2 record with a 3.03 ERA and 36 strikeouts over 35 2/3 innings. He has been trying to regain his old form after undergoing labrum surgery on his right shoulder during the 2008 season.
"We feel as though his velocity is slowly starting to creep back up," Anthopoulos said. "He's a strike thrower, certainly a tremendous competitor on the mound, and we'll really see what he has in camp. I'm not sure there are really expectations right now, other than a chance to get Chad back to where he was and a chance to evaluate him in camp."
Cordero's best season came in 2005, when he recorded 47 saves with a 1.82 ERA over 74 1/3 innings with the Washington Nationals. He was a National League All-Star that season and finished fifth in voting for the NL Cy Young Award.
Over his seven-year career, Cordero has a 20-15 record with a 2.89 ERA and 128 saves. It's the type of low-risk addition that Anthopoulos said made sense for his club.
"There's no such thing as a bad Minor League signing, because there's no guarantee from the club standpoint," Anthopoulos said. "So when your scouting department feels strongly about someone ... those are deals that we're always going to do."