Blue Jays build bullpen with Dotel, Cordero

Pittsburgh Pirates closer Octavio Dotel celebrates after getting the third out of the ninth inning to preserve an 11-9 win over the Milwaukee Brewers in a baseball game in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, July 20, 2010. Dotel has passed a physical, completing his US$3.5-million, one-year contract with the Toronto Blue Jays. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Gene J. Puskar

There is work to be done and some irons remain in the fire but signing Octavio Dotel and giving Chad Cordero a chance to win a job this spring has Toronto Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos feeling a bit more comfortable with his bullpen.

A one-year deal worth US$3 million, with a club option for 2012 worth $3.5 million, was finalized with Dotel on Tuesday after the 37-year-old passed a physical. Cordero, a former first-round pick of the Montreal Expos, agreed to a minor-league contract and combined, the two moves help bolster a relief corps thinned out by the losses of Kevin Gregg, Scott Downs and Brian Tallet.

Improving a bullpen that ranked 10th in American League ERA last year was one of Anthopoulos's goals, and he feels he's taken a step in that direction.

"Any time you add a reliever who's proven and has had the success Octavio's had you certainly feel better about your bullpen," Anthopoulos said on a conference call. "I don't know that you're every completely satisfied with your bullpen because it's probably one of the most volatile areas in the game and the hardest to predict year-in and year-out.

"The fact that Octavio's had the success he's had, and what he brings to the clubhouse and all the other factors, and that he will pitch in any role for us, it's a signing that certainly will help our club."

Dotel, who saved 22 games for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Los Angeles Dodgers and Colorado Rockies in 2010, is the "front-runner" to replace Gregg, who is a free agent after saving 37 games. Jason Frasor is the only returning reliever with any significant closing experience, and he hasn't been able to hold the job.

While roles are to be sorted in the spring, Anthopoulos continues to nose around for more help.

"We'll still be active and explore the relief market, if something makes sense for us it's something we'll continue to look into but we certainly won't force anything there," he said. "If we can find an everyday player that can fit into the outfield or third base, knowing the flexibility of Jose Bautista, we'd continue to explore that as well."

On that front, Anthopoulos conceded that it's looking more likely that Bautista will open the season at third base rather than right field, but that's not carved in stone. There are options in play and a month and a half before spring training opens.

"We're comfortable with (Bautista playing third)," said Anthopoulos. "We continue to have dialogue with clubs, we are exploring multiple things. I wouldn't say that I expect us to do anything, but it's something that until we open camp, we'll look to do things."

Cordero appeared in nine games for Seattle last season, going 0-1 with a 6.52 ERA, but mostly pitched in the minors. Shoulder surgery cost him much of 2008 and 2009, and the Blue Jays are hoping to buy low on him.

Anthopoulos and special assistant Dana Brown both know Cordero from the Expos.

"He's healthy right now," said Anthopoulos. "He's someone who we feel his velocity is slowly starting to creep back up, he's a strike thrower, a tremendous competitor on the mound, it's just a matter of we'll see what he has in camp."