Neither player looks like a substantial difference-maker, but there is appeal in both cases. The 26-year-old Richards’ main selling point is likely his affordable control. He’s on a minimum salary now, won’t be eligible for arbitration until after 2021, and isn’t on track to reach free agency until the conclusion of the 2024 season. The battle-tested Romo, 36, could give a contender a credible late-game option down the stretch, and he presumably wouldn’t cost much to acquire.
An undrafted free agent in 2013, Richards has emerged as a back-end starter for the Marlins since he debuted in the majors last season. Dating back to then, Richards has pitched to a 4.51 ERA/4.39 FIP with 8.8 K/9 and 3.94 BB/9 in 235 1/3 innings and 45 starts. While the Marlins are open to trading starters if doing so would help improve their position player group, they may be hard-pressed to get a desirable, major league-ready hitter back for Richards – who has been useful but far from spectacular.
Romo, previously with the Giants, Dodgers and Rays, inked a $2.5MM guarantee with the Marlins in free agency last winter. At the time, non-contending Miami was likely hoping Romo would wind up bringing something back in an in-season trade. With a 3.68 ERA/3.96 FIP, 7.85 K/9 against 3.19 BB/9 and 16 saves on 17 chances in 36 2/3 innings, perhaps the three-time world champion has performed well enough to end the season with a playoff-caliber team.
As has been the case over the past few years, Romo has limited damaging contact despite velocity that only tops out in the 85 to 86 mph range. Romo ranks in the league’s 86th percentile or better in exit velocity, expected weighted on-base average against (.273, not far from a .280 actual wOBA), expected batting average against and hard-hit rate, per Statcast. His primary pitch – a slider – has held opposing hitters to a matching and minuscule .211 xwOBA and wOBA. It’s the second-best slider in the game among relievers, according to FanGraphs’ linear weights. Judging by teams’ interest in Romo, his go-to pitch just might factor into this year’s playoff race.