Wilfredo Cordero Nieva
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 2", Weight 190 lb.
- High School Centro Residencial de Oportunidades Educativas de Mayagüez
- Debut July 24, 1992
- Final Game July 18, 2005
- Born October 3, 1971 in Mayagüez, P.R.
Wil Cordero was a highly-touted shortstop prospect when he made his Major League debut at age 20 for the Montreal Expos in 1992. An All-Star and Silver Slugger in 1994, his career was marred by off-the-field issues.
Wil signed at 16 with scouts Pepito Centeno and Cucho Rodriguez as soon as he completed the minimal high school attendance requirement in Puerto Rico. He hit very well in the minors despite always being one of the youngest players in each league he played. Spike Owen was the Expos' regular shortstop when Cordero first came up in 1992 (45 games, a hot .302/.353/.397 line), but he was allowed to leave via free agency to open the job for the youngster at the start of the 1993 season. Cordero was a preseason favorite to win the Rookie of the Year Award, but ended up 7th in the voting after hitting only .248/.308/.387 with 32 doubles and 10 home runs. He had a great season in 1994, setting a team record for most home runs in a season by a shortstop (15); the record had been previously held by Hubie Brooks. He made the All-Star team for the only time in his career as he hit .294/.363/.489 with a solid 119 OPS+. His performance was a part of the Expos posting the best record in baseball before the strike brought the season to an untimely end. He seemed to be on his way to stardom. In 1995, Cordero became the first shortstop since Tim Foli in 1976 to lead the Expos in hits. On the field, he committed 17 errors in 105 games as a shortstop and drove manager Felipe Alou batty with his miscues on routine ground balls. With regular left fielder Moises Alou lost for the last month of the season with a shoulder injury and young Mark Grudzielanek ready to take the job, Cordero was switched to the outfield for the last month of the season. This reduced his value significantly, as he went from a good-hitting shortstop with defensive issues to a mediocre hitting corner outfielder.
Cordero was traded to the Boston Red Sox before the 1996 season and moved to second base. An injury limited him to 59 games but a fair .288/.330/.404 line. As the Sox's regular left fielder in 1997, he collected 5 hits in a game against the New York Yankees on May 22nd, in the middle of a 10-game hitting streak that lasted from May 20th to May 30th. He set personal highs with 160 hits, 18 home runs and 72 RBI that season, but was still a below-average hitter for the position (.281/.320/.432). He was released a few days before the end of the year after pleading guilty to assault and battery against his ex-wife, also having a restraining order filed against him in Puerto Rico. He was able to catch on in 1998 as a first baseman for the Chicago White Sox, splitting time with rookie Greg Norton. He did well in limited playing time with the Cleveland Indians in 1999, batting .299/.364/.500 as an outfielder/DH. While in New York, he was arrested for disturbing the peace after menacing his new wife's ex-husband. He signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2000 in a move that was widely criticized given Cordero's inconsistent performance, lack of a defensive position, and troubled personal history; he countered some of the negative publicity by donating $100,000 to the Roberto Clemente Foundation. Naturally, the Pirates soon realized that the signing had been a huge mistake, and sent Cordero back to Cleveland in a deal at the trading deadline.
Cordero did not hit much in his second stint in Cleveland and was released early in the 2002 season. He was picked up by the Montreal Expos to shore up a weak bench and proved useful as a pinch hitter and right-handed platoon partner for left fielder Troy O'Leary, hitting .273/.349/.462 with a 109 OPS+. While in Orlando, FL, he was charged with battery in another domestic violence spat that was later dropped when the victim refused to cooperate in prosecution. He did even better in 2003 when he nudged Jeff Liefer out of a job as the Expos' first baseman and ended up as the team's regular. He hit 27 doubles and 16 home runs while driving in 71 runs, providing decent production for the cash-strapped Expos who unexpectedly found themselves in the NL Wild Card race. He turned this rebirth into a deal with the Florida Marlins, but his 2004 season was limited to 27 games by injuries. The Expos, who had now become the Washington Nationals, signed him again for 2005, but he only hit .118 in 51 at-bats and was done as a major league player. In 2009, he was back in the news, when a case file against him reached the Net, revealing that he had made repeated attempts to reduce court-ordered child support payments.