CINCINNATI -- There could be a doozy of a decision looming for the Reds this winter, and it carries large financial ramifications. Will they bring back closer Francisco Cordero?
Cordero is in the final guaranteed year of his four-year, $46 million contract that pays him $12 million this season. There is a $12 million club option for 2012 with a $1 million buyout. The 36-year-old made clear his wishes.
"I would love to be back again," Cordero said on Wednesday. "I'm not afraid to go somewhere else, but this organization, and my teammates, has been real great to me. My family loves it here in Cincinnati. They've got a great ownership and front office. Dusty [Baker] has been like a father to me. I love Dusty as a manager, but more as a person. He's an amazing guy, something you don't find every day in a manager.
"Sometimes it's not right to say stuff like that, but I would even like to retire as a Cincinnati Red. It's not up to me. There are some things we'll have to deal with."
To make that happen, would Cordero be willing to come back at a lower price if the Reds were to extend his stay? That question he wasn't ready to answer.
"That's something they might talk about with my agent, if they decide to do it," Cordero said. "My agent would have to talk about it with me. I would love to be here. I'm sure there is something we could do or work out that would be fair to both sides."
After saving 40 of 48 games in an inconsistent 2010 season, Cordero has been sensational most of '11. He has a 2.34 ERA and 29 saves in 34 chances and 56 games. He has also made significant cuts to his walks and hits totals from a year ago.
With 319 career saves, Cordero is tied for 14th on the all-time list and two shy from tying idol and fellow Dominican native Jose Mesa. If he is not brought back by the Reds, the closer's role would be wide open. It would definitely intensify speculation that lefty Aroldis Chapman could close next season.
Cordero is not letting his unsettled contract situation affect his performance on the mound.
"I don't worry about that," Cordero said. "I'll have to think about it, but it's really not what's on my mind. My mind is on doing my job. I've got to give my best to Cincinnati and be my best."