Chad Cordero elected to become a free agent Thursday after the Washington Nationals outrighted the right-handed reliever, along with two others, to Class AAA Syracuse.
Cordero, reliever Ryan Wagner and infielder Pete Orr all were removed from Washington’s 40-man roster in procedural moves designed to clear up space for potential offseason signings or trades.
The Nationals already planned not to tender a contract before the Dec. 12 deadline to Cordero, who had major shoulder surgery in July and may not be ready to return by Opening Day.
General manager Jim Bowden revealed the club’s intentions over the summer during a radio interview. Though Cordero expected that move - otherwise, he would be owed about $5 million in arbitration - he was outraged at the manner in which Bowden revealed it without first informing him.
After that, the right-hander privately told friends and teammates he wouldn’t re-sign with the Nationals as long as Bowden remained GM, though some club officials remain hopeful Cordero will consider an incentive-laden minor league contract.
Cordero’s 128 career saves rank second in franchise history, behind only Jeff Reardon (who saved 152 games with the Montreal Expos) and he has been one of Washington’s most recognizable players since the club arrived in town in 2005.
But he complained of shoulder pain on opening night, went on the disabled list and ultimately appeared in only six games before doctors discovered he had a torn labrum. Recovery time from his surgery can be as much as 12 months, but Cordero remains optimistic he’ll be healthy by April.
Meanwhile, the Nationals declined to pick up a $5 million club option on Wily Mo Pena, though the injury-plagued outfielder could still return in 2009 after exercising his right to pick up a $2 million player option.
Pena had a miserable season, batting .205 with two homers and 10 RBI in 64 games before revealing his own shoulder pain. He subsequently had surgery to repair a torn labrum and missed the remainder of the season.
Notes - The club will unveil its new uniforms for the 2009 season in a Nov. 6 event at ESPN Zone. Among the changes are new road jerseys with script lettering for the word “Washington” instead of block lettering. …
The Nationals promoted Brian Parker to director of baseball operations and Adam Cromie to assistant director of baseball operations. Parker was formerly assistant director of scouting, and Cromie was a baseball operations assistant.