Cordero's Nats tenure likely over

Cordero's Nats tenure likely over

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals announced on Thursday that the club has outrighted right-handers Chad Cordero and Ryan Wagner and infielder Pete Orr to Triple-A Syracuse. All three declined the assignment to Syracuse and elected to become free agents, according to a Major League source.

Washington made the moves to make room for some of its Minor Leaguers on the 40-man roster, thus protecting them from the Rule 5 Draft.

Cordero, 26, is considered one of the best closers in Nationals/Expos history, saving 128 games and compiling a 2.78 ERA during his career. His best season was in 2005, when he saved 47 games to go with a 1.82 ERA.

Cordero missed most of the 2008 season because of a labrum tear in his right shoulder. He had surgery on July 8 and is expected to be ready for Spring Training. The right-hander visited Dr. Lewis Yocum for a checkup on Thursday and is expected to start throwing in two weeks. In between, Cordero is expected to get married on Nov. 8 and go on his honeymoon. He will also be a father in May.

"[Dr. Yocum] talked to my agent today and said that everything was looking good," Cordero said. "He told him that my shoulder strength is excellent and my arm is healing very well. Everything is going good."

Although he didn't play most of the year, Cordero found his name in the news last July, when general manager Jim Bowden told Sports Talk 980 AM in Washington that Cordero would be non-tendered. Cordero made $6 million this past season. Sources indicated that Cordero would not come back to the Nationals if Bowden was still the general manager. Bowden later apologized to Cordero and his agent, Larry Reynolds.

But Cordero is now open to coming back to the Nationals for the 2009 season. He acknowledged that it was an emotional time for him last July.

"Yeah, I'm open to coming back. I'm not going to close the door on anybody," Cordero said. "Obviously, I had a great time in D.C. and with the organization. This year was a tough time for me. I'm going to keep my options open. If it works out, I'll come back, and that would be awesome."

Wagner, who was part of the eight-player trade that sent left-hander Bill Bray to the Reds in 2006, didn't play a game in the Major Leagues this past season in part because of right shoulder problems. However, he played for Triple-A Columbus and went 0-3 with a 5.68 ERA in 16 games.

Wagner, 26, said he was surprised about being outrighted to Syracuse, but that he is looking to move on.

"I'm as healthy as I've been since 2004," he said. "I threw the ball well at the end of the year. I'm anxious to see where I end up."

Orr, 29, spent time with Triple-A Columbus and the Nationals. In 49 games for Washington, Orr hit .253 with seven RBIs. Orr said he was not surprised by the moves because the team wants to add Minor Leaguers to the roster.

"They have interest in me coming back and I have interest in coming back," Orr said. "I would not say it's the end in Washington. I would say it's more of a numbers move, I guess."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.