Sergio Romo Rumors

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.


Giants, Romo Unlikely To Discuss Extension During Season

The Giants are interested in locking up closer Sergio Romo, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, but the two sides aren’t likely to talk about a new contract during the season. According to Heyman, while the sides are “open” to re-engaging, Romo and the Giants have agreed to not let the talks disrupt the season for the time being.

That, of course, does not mean that the 31-year-old Romo is a lock to reach free agency. The Giants hammered out an extension for Hunter Pence last September just prior to the season’s completion, and they negotiated a new two-year deal for Tim Lincecum before he filed for free agency. San Francisco GM Brian Sabean has shown an affinity for retaining his players, recently signing Angel Pagan, Marco Scutaro, Santiago Casilla, Jeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez to new multi-year deals upon the expiration of their previous deals with the Giants. He also signed Matt Cain to a five-year extension (with a sixth-year option) to keep the right-hander from hitting the open market.

Romo is off to a nice start to the 2014 season, having pitched to a 1.88 ERA with 7.5 K/9, 1.9 BB/9 and a 52.8 percent ground-ball rate. ERA estimators such as FIP and xFIP aren’t as bullish on his work to this point, but such metrics have, in the past, agreed that Romo’s skill set is that of an elite reliever. In 308 innings at the Major League level (all coming with the Giants), Romo has a 2.25 ERA (2.59 FIP, 2.98 xFIP) and has averaged better than 10 strikeouts per nine innings pitched.

Should he hit the open market, Romo could be perceived as the prize of the reliever market next offseason. He’d be joined by names like Jason Grilli, LaTroy Hawkins, Jim Johnson, Casey Janssen and potentially Rafael Soriano, assuming his $14MM option is declined. Huston Street could hit the open market as well, though it stands to reason that his $7MM club option will be exercised as long as he is healthy. If not, he wouldn’t provide much competition for Romo anyhow.

Romo is a client of Meister Sports Management, as shown in MLBTR’s Agency Database. A look at MLBTR’s Extension Tracker shows that Meister Sports was the agency behind Romo’s previous two-year deal with the Giants (which bought out his remaining arbitration years) as well as the four-year, $12MM extension signed by Cory Luebke with the Padres and the three-year, $16.5MM pact inked by Sean Marshall with the Reds. Clearly, a deal to buy out multiple free agent seasons for Romo would top those contracts with relative ease.



Giants Notes: Zito, Wilson, Theriot, Romo

Giants pitcher Barry Zito says that he would be open to a contract extension and wants to stay a Giant until he retires, tweets Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.  The left-hander is entering the final year of his seven-year, $126MM deal, which includes a $7MM buyout for his option on the 2014 season.  Zito can have the full $18MM option vest with 200 innings of work in 2013.  He hasn't reached that total since 2006, but he has come within eight innings of 200 in three of his seasons in San Francisco.  Here's more on the Giants, courtesy of Schulman..

  • General Manager Sabean says he and Brian Wilson just aren't on the same page, Schulman tweets.  Wilson wants more guaranteed money in the deal while the Giants want something heavily based on incentives. 
  • Sabean said he "lost contact" with Theriot after a winter meetings overture, according to Schulman (on Twitter).  Sabean also says that he is open to talking about a long-term deal with Buster Posey.  If the Giants start things up with Theriot again, they'll have competition from the Indians, Rangers, and others.
  • If Sergio Romo pitches a true closer's workload, his two-year, $9MM deal could rise to $10.5MM in total with incentives and escalators for games finished, Schulman tweets.

Giants, Romo Agree To Two-Year Deal

9:34pm: Romo gets $3.5MM in 2013 and $5.5MM in 2014, good for $9MM in total, according to Dan Plesac of the MLB Network (on Twitter).

6:24pm: The Giants announced that they have avoided arbitration with closer Sergio Romo by agreeing to a two-year deal.  Romo is represented by Meister Sports Management.

This deal takes care of Romo's remaining arbitration seasons and he will still hit the open market following the 2014 season as planned.  With the closer under contract, the Giants now have taken care of all of their arbitration eligible players this winter.  Terms of the deal are not yet known.  The right-hander filed for $4.5MM while the Giants countered with $2.675MM when figures were exchanged in January.

Romo, 29, posted a 1.79 ERA last season with 10.2 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9 in 69 relief appearances last season.  The two sides also dodged arbitration last winter when they agreed to a one-year, $1.575MM deal. 


Arbitration Filing Numbers

Many players will avoid arbitration today, and dozens of others exchanged figures with their teams in anticipation of hearings. Most cases won't go to arbitration hearings, but teams such as the Rays, Marlins, Blue Jays and Braves are known for their 'file and trial' policies. For players on those teams this marks the last chance at negotiations before a hearing.

MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker will keep you up to date on every one of the filing numbers from around the game, but here are the highlights — players who filed for $4MM or more. Now for the details…


Giants, Romo Avoid Arbitration

The Giants avoided arbitration with Sergio Romo, agreeing to a one-year deal, Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News tweets. The 28-year-old right-hander will earn $1.575MM in 2012, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. As MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker shows, Romo filed for $1.75MM while the Giants countered at $1.3MM for a midpoint of $1.525MM.

Romo posted a 1.50 ERA with 13.1 K/9 and 0.9 BB/9 in 48 innings for the Giants in 2011. The Meister Sports Management client is under team control through 2014.  Tim Lincecum, who filed for a record $21.5MM, is San Francisco's lone unsigned arbitration eligible player.


Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Jays, Bell, Davis, Dunn

On this date in 2002, the Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network launched. Although the regional network barely broke even that year, YES has gone on to generate millions in revenue, much of which goes right into the Yankees' pockets. As recently as 2008, there was talk that the network was worth more than the team itself.

After you wrap your head around that, here are some links to check out from around the baseball blogosphere…

If you have a suggestion for this feature, Mike can be reached here.