Veteran reliever Sergio Romo is zeroing in on an agreement with a yet-unreported club, tweets Jon Heyman of MLB Network. The 35-year-old was said a couple of weeks back to be drawing heightened interest, and it seems he’ll soon make a decision on his next club. Heyman notes that Romo is looking at a one-year deal, which quite likely indicates that he’ll be inking a Major League pact when all is said and done. That much could’ve been largely expected early in free agency, though with Spring Training looming, there do figure to be some surprising minor league deals agreed upon.
Romo helped to pioneer the “opener” role with the Rays last season, making five starts in that still-developing role. He had three successful outings and one ugly showing as an opener but turned in a 3.88 ERA with a 68-to-16 K/BB ratio in 62 2/3 innings as a more conventional reliever. Romo nailed down 25 saves for Tampa Bay and turned in a 13 percent swinging-strike ratio and a 33.1 percent chase rate. He’s never been a hard-thrower but never struggled to miss bats, making him a nice veteran addition on what should be a rather affordable deal.
A few more notes on some free agents who have had a fairly quiet offseason…
- Jeremy Hellickson and the Nationals are in talks about a potential reunion, tweets Craig Mish of SiriusXM. Hellickson, 32 in April, made 19 starts for Washington last season and was generally effective. In 91 1/3 innings, he averaged 6.4 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 with a career-best 45.9 percent grounder rate en route to a 3.45 ERA. Metrics like FIP (4.22), xFIP (4.27) and SIERA (4.33) all felt Hellickson benefited from a bit of good fortune but was still a useful big league arm. The Nats have one of the strongest rotations in MLB, with Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin and Anibal Sanchez comprising the top four. Joe Ross is projected as the No. 5 and will have competition from former first-rounder Erick Fedde, but both righties still have a minor league option. A big league deal for Hellickson would likely put him into the rotation.
- The Giants and Athletics are among the teams with some level of interest in free-agent left-hander Gio Gonzalez, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today. New Giants president of baseball ops Farhan Zaidi has waited out the market to find palatable one-year contracts with Derek Holland and Drew Pomeranz already, so perhaps there’s a hope that the same can be accomplished with regard to the 33-year-old Gonzalez. San Francisco currently projects to have Madison Bumgarner, Dereck Rodriguez, Holland and Pomeranz in the rotation, with the fifth spot likely going to either Jeff Samardzija or Andrew Suarez, depending on Samardzija’s health after an injury-ruined 2018 season. Ty Blach, Chris Stratton and Tyler Beede are among the other rotation candidates on the 40-man roster. Meanwhile, there’s a clearer path to rotation innings in Gonzalez’s old Oakland stomping grounds. It’s not the first time the A’s have been connected to Gonzalez this winter, but the interest is nonetheless notable, as the last link between the two sides came well before the Athletics’ signing of Marco Estrada.