Phillies decline $4.5 million option on J.C. Romero for 2011

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In a no-brainer move, the Phillies have declined their $4.5 million option on reliever J.C. Romero for 2011. He’ll get a $250,000 buyout instead.

Philadelphia signed Romero to a three-year, $12 million deal after he posted a 1.24 ERA in 36 innings down the stretch in 2006. He was reasonably solid in Year 1 of the contract, posting a 2.75 ERA despite 38 walks in 59 innings, but then missed most of last season thanks to a 50-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs followed by an elbow injury.

He returned to appear in 60 games this season, but managed to pitch a total of just 36.2 innings in part because the Phillies used him mostly as a left-handed specialist and in part because he couldn’t throw strikes consistently. Romero walked 29 batters in 36.2 frames, which makes him very tough to rely on in key spots despite his remaining very effective versus left-handed bats.

MLBPA proposes 114-game season, playoff expansion to MLB

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ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that the Major League Baseball Players Association has submitted a proposal to the league concerning the 2020 season. The proposal includes a 114-game season with an end date on October 31, playoff expansion for two years, the right for players to opt out of the season, and a potential deferral of 2020 salaries if the postseason were to be canceled.

Passan clarifies that among the players who choose to opt out, only those that are considered “high risk” would still receive their salaries. The others would simply receive service time. The union also proposed that the players receive a non-refundable $100 million sum advance during what would essentially be Spring Training 2.

If the regular season were to begin in early July, as has often been mentioned as the target, that would give the league four months to cram in 114 games. There would have to be occasional double-headers, or the players would have to be okay with few off-days. Nothing has been mentioned about division realignment or a geographically-oriented schedule, but those could potentially ease some of the burden.

Last week, the owners made their proposal to the union, suggesting a “sliding scale” salary structure. The union did not like that suggestion. Players were very vocal about it, including on social media as Max Scherzer — one of eight players on the union’s executive subcommittee — made a public statement. The owners will soon respond to the union’s proposal. They almost certainly won’t be happy with many of the details, but the two sides can perhaps find a starting point and bridge the gap. As the calendar turns to June, time is running out for the two sides to hammer out an agreement on what a 2020 season will look like.