Released by the Blue Jays two weeks ago, left-hander Ricky Romero is “making progress” on a deal to sign with the Giants according to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Toronto Sportsnet.
Romero was a 26-year-old All-Star in 2011 and the Blue Jays signed him to a $30 million long-term deal, but then he ceased being able to throw the ball over the plate. Since that All-Star season Romero has a 5.97 ERA with 113 walks in 188 innings, and his control got so bad that he spent most of 2013 and all of 2014 struggling in the minors.
Romero is still just 30 years old and the Blue Jays are on the hook for his entire contract, making it a no-risk flier for the Giants, but last season at Triple-A he had 42 walks in 38 innings. He serves as an example of how not every pre-arbitration contract extension for a young star player works out well for the team.
The Blue Jays announced yesterday that left-hander Ricky Romero was outrighted to Triple-A Buffalo. This is the second time this year that he has passed through waivers unclaimed.
Of course, that shouldn’t be a big surprise at this point, but it’s just the latest indication of how far Romero has fallen since he posted a 2.92 ERA during his age-26 season in 2011. The southpaw struggled miserably with his control in 2012 while putting up a 5.77 ERA in 32 starts and attempts to fix his mechanics this year were largely unsuccessful, as he had a 5.78 ERA and 81/63 K/BB ratio over 113 2/3 innings in Triple-A and allowed nine runs on 11 hits and eight walks over 7 1/3 innings with the big club.
Romero, who turns 29 next month, is still owed $7.5 million in each of the next two seasons while his $13.1 million option for 2016 carries a $600,000 buyout. He’s not occupying a spot on the 40-man roster, so the Blue Jays will have to hope he figures something out while toiling in the minor leagues.
J.A. Happ probably would have opened the season as the most well-compensated pitcher in Triple-A if Ricky Romero hadn’t struggled so mightily this spring. Inserted into the Blue Jays’ rotation instead, Happ struck out six in 5 1/3 innings and combined with three relievers on a two-hit shutout of the Red Sox on Saturday.
The Blue Jays got homers from J.P. Arencibia and Colby Rasmus to account for all of their runs in the 5-0 game.
Rather than retain Happ as a reliever, the Blue Jays were expected to keep him stretched out by letting him lead Triple-A Buffalo’s rotation initially this season. That only changed at the very end of the spring, when they opted to demote Romero instead. Before that, Happ was frustrated enough with his situation that he considered asking for a trade. It’s safe to say he’s a lot happier now; not only did he get the rotation spot, but he received a two-year, $8.9 million contract at the end of March.
It was a miserable day for the Red Sox. Starter John Lackey, making his return from Tommy John surgery, left clutching his arm in the fifth and was diagnosed with a biceps strain that figures to keep him out for some time. His likely replacement in the rotation, Alfredo Aceves, came in and soon afterwards gave up a three-run bomb to Colby Rasmus.
The Red Sox also went 26 outs between hits. Jacoby Ellsbury started the top of the first with a double, but he was left stranded. The next hit came when Dustin Pedroia collected an infield single with two outs in the ninth. Mike Napoli followed that with a drive to the wall in center, only to be robbed by Rasmus.
Ricky Romero’s big fall from grace carries on.
According to Shi Davidi of Canada’s Sportsnet, the left-hander has officially been optioned to High-A Dunedin. Romero allowed six hits, three walks and three earned runs over 4 1/3 innings on Tuesday afternoon in a Grapefruit League game against the Pirates. He wound up posting a 6.23 ERA, 2.08 WHIP and 8/10 K/BB ratio in 13 total spring frames.
Romero will try to right the ship down on the farm. J.A. Happ, meanwhile, will take his rotation spot.
Romero registered an exceptional (and somewhat ace-like) 2.92 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 178/80 K/BB ratio across 225 innings for the Jays in 2011. But the 28-year-old southpaw had a 5.77 ERA, 1.67 WHIP and 124/105 K/BB ratio in 181 innings last season.
Minor elbow surgery, plasma injections in both knees, and mechanical adjustments were supposed to address whatever ailed Ricky Romero during his disastrous 2012 season, but the Blue Jays left-hander is still struggling.
Pitching in a minor-league game yesterday Romero walked five batters, struck out zero, and allowed four runs in 2.1 innings. He also has a 7.27 ERA and more walks (7) than strikeouts (6) in four starts in major-league games this spring, looking an awful lot like the guy who went 1-13 with a 7.35 ERA in his final 17 starts last season.
Following the game general manager Alex Anthopoulos answered all sorts of questions about Romero’s status without really saying anything definitive, but after previously ruling out a demotion to the minors he seemingly left that door open a bit this time:
We haven’t talked about it at all. Obviously we evaluate it start by start. We’ve said we have our five starters, he’s one of our five starters. As we go through it, the first conversation I’ve had about it is right now. I’ll talk to Gibby, talk to Pete, we’ll talk to the player as well. We haven’t had any change of plans, the plans are still the same but just like anything else you’re constantly evaluating.
At some point you can’t just keep trotting Romero out there every fifth day to walk everyone and/or get his brains beat in, especially since the Blue Jays have serious playoff aspirations this season and no shortage of rotation depth.