It seems the Yankees weren’t quite satisfied with their outfield options after leaving Tampa (or even DC yesterday). Jeff Passan is reporting that the club has signed Franchy Cordero to a split deal, one that will pay him $1 million if he sticks to the major league roster and $180,000 should he be moved to the Triple-A squad. Passan further confirms that Cordero will be on the Opening Day roster tomorrow.
There was speculation yesterday that Estevan Florial had played his way onto the active roster, after he was brought to New York from Tampa and non-roster invitee Rafael Ortega opted out of his deal. Florial can and potentially may very well be on the final 26-man roster, but the acquisition of Cordero should inject some skepticism in our evaluation of the longtime Yankee prospect.
Cordero’s been in the league for parts of six seasons, never seeing more than 275 plate appearances — topping out at that mark last year, when he posted a 92 wRC+ with the Red Sox. Most recently, he hit .413/.426/.674 in spring training with the Orioles, though Baltimore elected not to carry him for 2023. Cordero has been a below-average hitter despite some impressive underlying metrics. He hits the ball as hard as anyone in baseball, with max exit velo in the 100th and 99th percentile the last two years.
While Cordero can work walks effectively, his strikeout rate has never been below 33.5 percent for any extended time in the majors. All the contact quality in the world doesn’t mean much if you don’t make contact.
For what it’s worth, both ZiPS and Steamer project Cordero to hit better than Florial, by about 20 points of wRC+. However, Cordero is a considerably weaker defender and if Florial isn’t rostered, there still isn’t a legitimate center fielder on this roster, even in a bench role. At this time it’s probably a toss-up as to whether Florial is kept on the 26-man crew for Opening Day, or if they elect to drop him and bring in an outside reliever instead. The depth move for Cordero is likely insurance against a possible injury in the current outfield rotation.