Sergio Romo Rumors

Giants To Re-Sign Sergio Romo

The Giants have agreed to a two-year, $15MM deal with righty Sergio Romo, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. Romo can earn up to $1MM in incentives based upon games finished, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick tweets. Now entering his age-32 season, Romo lost his job as the San Francisco closer but rebounded to have a strong second half.

"<strongBringing back Romo represents be the offseason’s first significant addition for GM Brian Sabean, who fell short in efforts to re-sign Pablo Sandoval and draw Jon Lester. The team is said to be casting a wide net in efforts to bolster its roster for a World Series defense.

Getting Romo at a two-year guarantee may have cost the Giants a slight premium in AAV, with MLBTR’s Zach Links having predicted a three-year, $21MM deal for the slider specialist. In spite of his difficult start to the 2014 campaign, there is plenty to like about the veteran. As Zach noted, Romo owns a career 2.51 ERA with 10.1 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9, and has appeared in at least 64 games a season since the 2010 campaign.

And then there is that second half of last year. Other players — Brandon McCarthy and Chase Headley chief among them, perhaps — rode strong late-season runs to long contracts. For his part, Romo flipped a switch and posted a 1.80 ERA on the back of 10.4 K/9 against 1.4 BB/9 down the stretch. ERA estimators validated the improved results, as he compiled a 2.58 FIP and 2.89 xFIP.

Romo was also quite stingy during the Giants’ World Series run, allowing just one earned run in seven innings of work, with seven punchouts and no free passes. He owns a lifetime 2.11 ERA in 21 1/3 postseason frames, and has been a key component on each of San Francisco’s three recent championship clubs.

The free agent relief market is now without another top arm. Of the nine relievers to crack the top fifty list of MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes, four remain unsigned: Francisco Rodriguez, Rafael Soriano, Casey Janssen, and Jason Grilli.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Blue Jays Notes: Romo, Anthopoulos, Rule 5

Here’s the latest from Toronto…

  • The Blue Jays don’t appear to have checked in on Sergio Romo, Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith tweets.
  • The lack of interest in Romo may not be surprising, given what GM Alex Anthopoulos told reporters (including MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm) today.  The Jays are “probably turning our attention a little more to trades right now in terms of the relievers.  That’s not to say that’s how we’ll ultimately end up but….We’re exploring some trades right now that might make a little more sense for us.”
  • The costs were seemingly too high for the free agent relief arms and Anthopoulos also said there’s only so much the Jays are willing to give up in deals for bullpen help.  “We knew what the prices were in free agency and we weren’t prepared to go to that price point, and we’re still talking about some trades.  We’re not looking to trade our young, big league ready, or close to ready big league arms, for relievers. That’s not something we’re contemplating right now.”
  • The Jays are reportedly planning to “raid the Mets” during the minor league portion of tomorrow’s Rule 5 draft, ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin tweets.
  • The Jays had discussed Francisco Liriano before the lefty re-signed with the Pirates, Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun reports.  With Liriano off the board, Elliott wonders if the Blue Jays will now target another second-tier starter in Brandon McCarthy.

Latest On Sergio Romo

The relief market is in full swing this morning. Sergio Romo is arguably the best bullpen piece left on the market. The 31-year-old righty had a down year last year, but had been lights out for some time before and regained his former dominance over the season’s second half.

Here’s the latest:

  • The DodgersYankees, and Red Sox all have interest in Romo, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports on Twitter. All said, it would appear that Romo has quite a wealthy group of suitors, which bodes well for his ability to max out his market.
  • Romo is in talks with the incumbent Giants, per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). The Tigers have actually not inquired on Romo, Rosenthal tweets in correction of his prior report. San Francisco is in, though it has other priorities, he adds.


AL Central Notes: Tigers, Santana, Neshek, Viciedo

A reunion between Max Scherzer and the Tigers is “not happening,” a club official tells Peter Gammons (via Twitter).  What Detroit might do, however, is trade right-hander Rick Porcello to the Red Sox for a package of Yoenis Cespedes and Rubby De La Rosa.  Rumors of a Porcello/Cespedes deal arose a few days ago but talks between the two sides were “not hot” according to Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald.  Here’s some more from around the AL Central…

  • The Angels are searching for middle infield help and the TwinsEduardo Escobar is on their list of targets, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez tweets.  Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (also via Twitter) thinks the Halos could offer Minnesota a reliever in return, with Vinnie Pestano being “one name to watch.”
  • Also from Berardino (on Twitter), the Twins haven’t yet talked to free agent starter Ervin Santana.  The right-hander’s representatives are open to hearing from Minnesota, however, with a source telling Berardino that Santana “loves pitching in the cold.”
  • Pat Neshek‘s agent Barry Meister tells Berardino that he had a “social discussion” with Twins GM Terry Ryan but the two sides “haven’t had any substantive discussions at all” about the reliever rejoining the club.  Meister said that there has been “substantial interest from around the league in Neshek and another top reliever client, Sergio Romo.
  • The White Sox are telling teams that Dayan Viciedo is available, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports (Twitter link).  It’s no surprise that Viciedo is being shopped given that the Sox have been rumored to be exploring such outfield replacements as Melky Cabrera.  Viciedo hit .231/.281/.405 with 21 homers in 563 PA last season, providing below-replacement level value with -0.9 rWAR.

Astros Notes: Clippard, Romo, Gregerson, Hoes

The Astros came up short in their pursuit of David Robertson and Andrew Miller, but they still intend to acquire multiple relievers either in free agency or via trades, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes (via Twitter).  Here are some of the latest notable relief names connected to Houston…

  • The Astros contacted the Nationals about Tyler Clippard though talks “didn’t get far,” Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports.
  • The Astros have spoken to Sergio Romo and Luke Gregerson, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports (via Twitter).
  • Outfielder L.J. Hoes is being made available in trades for relief help, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets.  Hoes has hit .235/.288/.331 over 321 career plate appearances with Baltimore and Houston, receiving playing time off the bench in each of the last two seasons.
  • Astros owner Jim Crane spoke to Evan Drellich today, reiterating that the team has at least $20MM to spend this offseason and potentially more.  “Definitely that money’s available if they need it, and we could stretch a little if we need to and if something came in our direction we felt was the right piece that improved the team,” Crane said.  Also from this piece, Drellich notes that Crane was personally involved in process of trying to recruit Miller.

Rosenthal On Clippard, Royals, Romo, Gregerson

The Nationals are “likely” to trade setup man Tyler Clippard, a source tells FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.  MLBTR’s Matt Swartz projects Clippard will earn $9.3MM in his final year of arbitration eligibility before hitting the free agent market following the 2015 season, and with closer Drew Storen projected to land a $5.8MM contract as well, moving Clippard would allow the Nats to save some money at the back of their bullpen.

Here’s some more from Rosenthal on the relief market…

  • The Royals have received trade interest in Greg Holland and Wade Davis, and one of the two relief stars could conceivably be moved for a hitter.  Swartz projects Holland to earn $9.3MM in arbitration this winter, while K.C. already picked up their $7MM option on Davis for 2015.  Holland can be a free agent after 2016, the Royals hold two more option years on Davis and Kelvin Herrera is also now arb-eligible, so Kansas City may simply not be able to afford their dominant late-game trio for much longer.
  • Sergio Romo and Luke Gregerson are receiving more interest now that Andrew Miller is off the board.  Neither pitcher has generated much on the rumor mill to date this offseason, though Romo has been cited as one of the Astros’ backup options after Miller signed with the Yankees.
  • The Dodgers are looking for bullpen upgrades but are wary about making any major commitments given how much money they’ve already invested in relief pitching.
  • Speaking of high-priced Dodgers relievers, the team’s new front office “is not enamored with” Brian Wilson.  The righty will earn $9.5MM in 2015 after exercising the player option given to him by previous L.A. general manager Ned Colletti.  Wilson posted a 4.66 ERA, 1.86 K/BB and 5.4 BB/9 over 48 1/3 IP in 2014 while suffering a drop in velocity, though it was his first full season after returning from Tommy John surgery.

Free Agent Notes: Top Pitchers, Rios, Royals, Everth, Astros

With the Winter Meetings nearly upon us, ESPN’s Jayson Stark spoke to nine baseball executives regarding the “Big Three” starting pitchers on this year’s free agent market — Max Scherzer, Jon Lester and James Shields — and asked when and where they will sign. While answers as to when Scherzer will sign varied, there was a much tighter window on Lester, with all nine believing he will sign between Dec. 8 and Dec. 13. The execs polled by Stark feel that Shields’ market is tied so closely to Lester that he will sign within two weeks of Lester and perhaps even as soon as next week’s Winter Meetings. Many identified Shields as a fallback for teams that miss on Lester. Execs picked Lester to sign with the usual suspects at this point: the Red Sox, Cubs, Giants or Dodgers. Interestingly, Scherzer’s landing spot was predicted to be the Yankees, Nationals, Cubs or Tigers, by the five who were willing to wager a guess on that outcome.

A few more notes pertaining to free agency…

  • The MarinersRoyals, and Indians have all checked in on Alex Rios, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Rios, who joined the Boras Corporation earlier this offseason, has had a fairly quiet market to this point, though one would expect interest to pick up now that Nelson Cruz, Torii Hunter and Yasmany Tomas are off the market.
  • The Royals are looking for a right fielder and a starting pitcher but likely only have the available funds to make a “significant” investment in one of the two areas, tweets ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. The Royals may have to bargain shop for the other, he notes. Kansas City has invested a modest amount of its available funds to the bullpen in the past week, re-signing righties Jason Frasor and Luke Hochevar. However, it’s at least worth noting that Hochevar’s contract reportedly contains performance incentives tied to starting (though it also contains relief incentives).
  • Though the Mets are in need of a shortstop, ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin writes that recently non-tendered Padres speedster Everth Cabrera is not a consideration. Though he’s talented and has twice led the NL in stolen bases, Cabrera has a good deal of off-field issues on his record, including a 50-game PED suspension and more recent legal issues, as he’s been charged with resisting arrest after being stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence of marijuana. (Cabrera plead not guilty to those charges today, per the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Jeff Sanders.)
  • Lefty reliever Craig Breslow is drawing significant interest, but his timetable to sign is currently dependent on the rest of the relief market, tweets WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. Breslow is coming off a down season but has a strong track record. Interest in Breslow and other relievers could intensify now that Andrew Miller is off the board, I would think.
  • Though the Astros missed out on Miller even after offering him more money than the Yankees did, they’re still on the hunt for relievers, tweets Heyman. Houston remains interested in David Robertson, Sergio Romo and others.

Pen Notes: Robertson, Romo, Miller, Beimel, Burnett

Here’s the latest on the market for bullpen arms:

  • As the Jays look to make bullpen improvements that will align with the team’s other significant additions, the club has not ruled out a run at David Robertson, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). MLBTR’s Steve Adams predicted that Robertson would score a four-year deal that exceeds $50MM, and he seems within range of achieving that contract if he can push the bidding up to that fourth year.
  • If the Astros don’t land Robertson, the team could shift its sights to Sergio Romo, Heyman tweets. The 31-year-old had a down year, but still delivers strong strikeout numbers while holding free passes to a minimum.
  • The Astros also have interest in the market’s other top option, lefty Andrew Miller, per Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. He could be an alternative to Robertson as a closer target, the report indicates.
  • Another team with interest in Miller is the Yankees, with Joel Sherman of the New York Post confirming (via Twitter) the report from ESPN.com’s Buster Olney earlier today. As Sherman notes, New York has thus far declined to push into the four-year territory for Robertson, but may have to do so for Miller if the club hopes to be competitive. New York is also poking around the trade market for late-inning arms, per George A. King III of the New York Post.
  • Though the Mets have had at least some interest in lefty Joe Beimel in past years, he is not presently being considered, according to a tweet from Mike Puma of the New York Post. New York is one of many teams with at least one opening for a left-handed reliever.
  • Rehabbing southpaw Sean Burnett will not sign over the winter, Chris Cotillo of SB Nation tweets. The once-excellent Burnett has struggled through two injury-plagued campaigns with the Angels. He will target a return to the practice hill this spring, per the report, and hopes to be ready to sign during the upcoming season.

NL Notes: Morales, Cuddyer, Morse, Romo, Tomas

Free agent lefty Franklin Morales, most recently of the Rockies, has moved his representation to the Boras Corporation, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports on Twitter. The 28-year-old had a rough 2014. He put up a 5.37 ERA over 142 1/3 innings, including 22 starts, while striking out a below-average (against his career) 6.3 batters and walking 4.1 per nine.

Here’s more from Colorado and the rest of the National League:

  • The Rockies‘ extension of a qualifying offer to free agent outfielder Michael Cuddyer was the big surprise on the QO front. Colorado’s rationale for the move, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets, is to remain flexible to trade from its outfield depth. Cuddyer, meanwhile, had hoped to land a three-year deal, per Rosenthal, and the offer makes that a more difficult proposition. In my view, it makes little sense to create outfield depth to trade from by adding a contract with negative trade value; the move seems irrational unless the club has good reason to believe that Cuddyer will turn down the QO.
  • While teams can always simply price in the loss of a draft choice in assessing how much to offer a compensation-bound player, the presence of the QO can in some cases be a significant enough deterrent that it keeps a team out of the market altogether. That appears to be the case for the Mets vis-a-vis Cuddyer, as Marc Carig of Newday reports that New York had been quite interested in pursuing the veteran but has little interest in giving up the 15th overall pick in doing so.
  • The Mets may, however, be more willing to pursue non-QO-bound Michael Morse, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post. Morse would represent an option in the outfield and, perhaps, part-time platoon mate at first.
  • Giants righty Sergio Romo hopes to re-sign with San Francisco, he told MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (via host Jim Bowden). But the former closer is looking forward to testing the market, and should draw plenty of interest.
  • Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas worked out at third base in a tryout yesterday with the Diamondbacks, according to a tweet from his agent Jay Alou Jr.  The 24-year-old had been talked about primarily as a corner outfielder. Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com first tweeted that Tomas had spent time with the D’backs.

Free Agent Profile: Sergio Romo

Sergio Romo is one of several big name relievers on the open market this winter.  Despite his hiccups in 2014, he’s expected to find an attractive offer from a club betting on a rebound in 2015.

Strengths/Pros  

In 2013, Romo looked like one of the top closers in the majors.   The right-hander pitched to a 2.54 ERA with 8.7 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in 65 appearances (52 to close out the game) and rightfully earned his first career All-Star selection.  In fact, while he found widespread recognition in 2013 as the Giants’ full-time closer, his body of work as a whole deserves a tip of the cap.  Across seven seasons, Romo has proven himself to be a strong late-inning reliever, as evidenced by his career 2.51 ERA with 10.1 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9.  Simply put, he has a track record of being aggressive enough to make hitters whiff while keeping the walks way, way down. Sergio  Romo (vertical)

Aside from strong strikeout numbers and even stronger walk numbers, Romo’s resume shows that he is more durable than a lot of his peers.  Since 2010, Romo has made no less than 64 appearances in a season.  It’s not hard to imagine that continuing in 2015 and beyond since Romo doesn’t throw a tendon-tearing 100 mph fastball.

This past season obviously wasn’t Romo’s best, but there’s reason to believe that he can return to his old form.  Romo’s HR/FB ratio of 13.0% in 2014 was the highest of his career and a regression towards his career average of 8.1% would go a long way towards tamping down his ERA.

Romo’s numbers haven’t been boosted by a home field advantage as his performance has pretty much been the same within the confines of AT&T Park as they have been on the road.  Romo hasn’t shown much of a platoon split either.  He has also been very strong through three postseason runs and has the experience of pitching in three World Series on his resume.

It should also be noted that the 31-year-old (32 by Opening Day) won’t be tied down by a qualifying offer this winter.  And, while the sabermetric community may roll its eyes at the mention of saves, Romo is just one year removed from a 38-save season.

Weaknesses/Cons  

Suffice to say, Romo didn’t have the kind of walk year he was hoping for.  His strikeout and walk numbers were more or less there (9.2 K/9, 1.9 BB/9) but his 3.72 ERA left much to be desired and his 3.40 xFIP only granted him so much slack.  Romo’s regular season efforts netted him a -0.3 WAR, the first negative posting of his career.  In general, Romo’s xFIP has been about a half-run higher than his ERA would indicate, though a career mark of 3.02 is hardly a poor number.

Romo’s velocity has dipped a bit over the years, and he can’t afford to lose much more off of his 88 mph average from 2014.  Among free agent right-handed relievers, Romo’s fastball had the slowest average.  In fact, his heater was the fifth-slowest among all qualified relief pitchers in 2014.

Of course, losing the closer’s mantle this summer could hurt Romo’s stock and perception.  He’ll likely be considered as a closing option by some clubs, but some may prefer him in a setup capacity.

Personal  

Romo has two sons and greatly enjoys spending the bulk of his off time with them.  He also has multiple charitable efforts in the state of California and is something of the gym rat.  Romo makes his offseason home in Phoenix, Arizona.

In a lot of ways Sergio patterns his parenting style after his own dad, Frank.  “If I become half the dad my dad is, I’ll be happy,” Romo told ESPN The Magazine’s Tim Keown.

As Keown detailed, Frank pushed Sergio to join the Navy out of high school but relented by giving him two years to pursue his baseball dream.  It’s safe to say that was a good call.  Romo turned into one of the stronger set-up men in MLB and in 2012, he got his chance to close when Brian Wilson suffered an unfortunate elbow injury and Santiago Casilla developed blisters.

I have to admit, I wasn’t ready for what happened [in 2012],” Romo said. “I was afraid of a lot of the attention I got. I leaned on my teammates. I credit them for allowing me to be better than I think I really am. They brought the best out of me, and I didn’t have time to think about myself and my doubts. Many times I would think, ‘Man, how can they have so much faith and I’m sitting here doubting myself?’

Market  

Given his struggles in 2014, it’s hard to say whether the Giants would want to welcome back Romo, particularly if it would require a raise from his current $5.5MM salary.  In early May, the Giants were hoping to lock Romo up for the long term.  Now, that’s far from a given.  In the spring, Romo appeared poised to stand as the top free agent closer this winter.  Since then, Romo has arguably been leapfrogged by David Robertson, Andrew Miller, Luke Gregerson, and other available late-inning options.

Even if he’s not in the top-tier of eighth or ninth-inning guys, he’ll still get plenty of interest.  The Yankees, if they lose Robertson, might want to fortify their bullpen with a less expensive option like Romo.  Ditto for the Orioles and Andrew Miller, who Tim Dierkes sees fetching a four-year, $32MM deal.  Recently, our own Steve Adams suggested the Indians as a possible fit for the veteran and teams like the White Sox, Astros, Dodgers, and Red Sox could also get in the mix.  There will be tons of clubs on the lookout for bullpen arms, so agent Barry Meister figures field calls from a number of GMs.

Expected Contract

Romo is one of many notable bullpen arms available this winter and with so many options out there, he may not want to drag his feet in finding a deal.  Waiting until after the New Year could mean settling for something far less lucrative than what he’s hoping for today.  Still, if he’s intent on exploring the open market, he may have to wait for the dominoes to fall.

Romo will have more suitors once the runners-up for Robertson, Miller, and the like start to search out other options.  Then again, maybe it won’t come to that.  After topping the Royals, the afterglow of the Giants’ third World Series title in five years could help to facilitate a reunion early on in the process.

Ultimately, I see Romo signing a three-year, $21MM deal this offseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.