The Next Dennis Sarfate or Marc Kroon?
For San Francisco Giants reliever Eric Cordier has just signed a deal to play with the Orix Buffaloes in Japan next year. He reminds me of Dennis Sarfate or Marc Kroon, two pitchers with plus MLB stuff but minus MLB command, who became hugely successful closers in Japan’s NPB.
Cordier has a 100 mph fastball. That pretty much says it all. The Giants were willing to give Cordier a major league contract before the 2014 season, in spite of the fact that Cordier was soon to be 28 years old and had not yet pitched in the major leagues.
Cordier pitched extremely well at AAA this year, but didn’t pitch well in an eight game trial with the Marlins late this past season. He’ll be 30 in 2016, and there is just no reason to think that his command is going to improve enough for him to be regular major league reliever before he gets old and looses a foot or two off his fastball.
Japan’s NPB, with its wider strike zone and overall inferior hitters, is an ideal place for Cordier to seek his professional baseball fame and fortune. They don’t see many 100 mph fastballs in NPB, or in any event far fewer than in MLB. Cordier is right on the cusp of being an MLB player, and those are the guys who tend to do best in Japan.
Sometimes it’s better to be a big fish in a small pond, than a small fish in a big pond, especially when Japanese teams will pay $2M to $4M a year to their big fish.