In a trio of expected moves the Pirates have declined their 2012 options on left-hander Paul Maholm, catcher Chris Snyder, and catcher/outfielder Ryan Doumit.
Maholm was due $9.75 million and has failed to develop into more than a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter at age 29, so Pittsburgh will instead give him a $750,000 buyout.
Snyder was due $6.75 million, but missing the final three-and-half months of the season following back surgery made choosing a $750,000 buyout a no-brainer move for the Pirates.
Doumit’s deal had 2012 and 2013 options totaling $15.5 million, compared to a $500,000 buyout. Pittsburgh tried to unload his contract during spring training and he played just 77 games this season, but hit well when healthy with a .303 batting average and .830 OPS in 77 games.
Maholm should be able to find a multi-year contract on the open market, but Snyder will likely have to settle for a one-year deal to prove that he’s healthy and still capable of being a starting catcher. Doumit’s defense behind the plate may keep him from landing a full-time catching job, but he could interest AL teams as a catcher/outfielder/designated hitter.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.