- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 21, 2007

VIERA, Fla. — Chad Cordero won his arbitration case against the Washington Nationals yesterday and earned a $4.15 million salary for 2007, nearly eight times what he made last year.

Cordero, who has saved 91 games for the Nationals franchise over the last three-plus seasons, persuaded a panel of three judges to side with him after a three-hour hearing Tuesday in Arizona. General manager Jim Bowden, who had won his two previous arbitration cases with the club, had countered with a $3.65 million offer.

“I was kind of surprised,” said Cordero, who made just $525,000 last season and turned down recent offers of a two-year deal from Washington. “I was happy to see the way it went. It turned out good.”

Cordero felt he had a strong argument all along, given his high rate of success at such a young age (he turns 25 next month), but Bowden has a track record for winning in arbitration himself, having already beaten John Patterson last week and Alfonso Soriano last spring.

But Bowden’s case, in which he cited the fact Cordero’s save total dropped from 47 in 2005 to 29 last year, did not sway the panel.

“Chad Cordero’s a very important part of this young core of young players that we have,” Bowden told reporters. “We’re glad that the signing season is just about over.”

Only one player on the Nationals’ 40-man roster has yet to sign a contract: Ryan Zimmerman. The second-year third baseman figures to earn a modest raise from his rookie salary of $327,000, perhaps getting as much as $500,000.

Cedeno joins staff

Manager Manny Acta has added former All-Star outfielder Cesar Cedeno to his spring training coaching staff. Cedeno, who hit .285 with 199 homers and 550 stolen bases during a 17-year career with the Astros, Reds, Cardinals and Dodgers, will serve as a special instructor with the Nationals.

He will work specifically on baserunning and outfield defense and plans to spend considerable time with speedsters Nook Logan and Felipe Lopez.

Cedeno, who turns 56 this week, goes a long way back with Acta. The two worked together in the Astros’ farm system and hoped to be reunited someday if Acta got a managing job.

“We had always talked about if he ever got a chance to manage, that he’d give me an opportunity to come and help,” said Cedeno, who most recently was coaching winter ball in Venezuela. “When he talked to me about this, I got all excited. It made me feel like a kid. I feel like I signed my first professional contract. I’m real excited to be here.”

Mexican club joins fray

The Nationals have signed a one-year working agreement with the Tabasco Olmecas of the Mexican Summer League, an arrangement that could help Washington land more Latin American players over time.

As part of the deal, the Nationals and Olmecas will share scouting intelligence and participate in a coaching exchange program.

This is Washington’s first working agreement with an international ballclub.

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