First baseman/outfielder Franchy Cordero has signed with the Seibu Lions of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball, his representatives at Republik Sports announced today on Instagram. He’ll be joined on the Lions roster by another former Yankee, right-hander Albert Abreu, according to FanSided’s Robert Murray, who reports that Abreu is also set to sign there. Abreu is represented by Vayner Sports.
Cordero, 29, has long tantalized Major League teams with his rare blend of immense raw power and plus speed. Persistent plate discipline and strikeout issues have undercut his upside in both departments, however, as indicated by a career .217/.283/.395 batting line in 797 plate appearances between the Padres, Red Sox, Royals and Yankees. He spent the 2023 season with the latter, enjoying a hot first week before falling into a prolonged slump and ending up with a .188/.211/.478 slash in 71 plate appearances.
The allure of Cordero’s raw tools is apparent to anyone who’s seen him enjoy a productive game in the big leagues or even just in glancing at his career line in the minors. He’s a .301/.384/.538 hitter with 54 home runs, 77 doubles, 22 triples and 42 steals (in 50 tries) over the life of 306 Triple-A contests. Cordero’s hit tool (or lack thereof), free-swinging approach and generally sub-par defensive grades in the outfield have all held him back. He’ll look to improve on each in his first venture overseas. He won’t turn 30 until next September, so with a good year or two in Japan, it’s feasible that he could eventually return to North American ball and make an impact.
As for Abreu, he’ll join his former and once-again teammate in his own debut in Asia. The hard-throwing righty was long considered one of the top prospects in the Astros and Yankees organizations — Houston traded him to New York in the Brian McCann swap — but he’s yet to find sustained MLB success.
Abreu tossed 59 innings for the Yankees in 2023, logging a 4.73 ERA with a 22.8% strikeout rate and 13.1% walk rate. The Yankees non-tendered him last month rather than pay him a raise in arbitration.
Command has been a consistent issue for Abreu, who carries a career 4.58 earned run average, 22.4% strikeout rate, 12.9% walk rate and 47.4% grounder rate. He’s averaged 97.9 mph on his sinker in his career, including 97.5 mph in 2023, and generates plenty of ground-balls with that pitch. However, Abreu doesn’t miss bats at the level you’d expect from someone with that type of velocity, as evidenced by his pedestrian career strikeout rate, below-average 10.2% swinging-strike rate and a sub-par 28.3% chase rate.