The Yankees announced Tuesday that they’ve re-signed Sal Romano to a Major League contract and designated right-hander Brooks Kriske for assignment to open space on the roster. Romano elected free agency over an outright assignment just yesterday but will almost immediately return to the MLB roster.
Kriske has been an up-and-down reliever for New York over the past couple seasons. This year alone, the Yankees have optioned him on seven separate occasions, recalling him six times when the need for a rested bullpen arm presented itself. Amidst the back-and-forth, Kriske has made eight appearances after pitching in his first four big league games last year. He’s yet to find any success against major league hitters, combining for 11 1/3 innings of 20-run ball to this point. Kriske has struck out fifteen batters, but he’s also issued eleven walks and served up six home runs in his rather limited time.
That said, the 27-year-old has a generally strong body of work in the minors. The USC product posted dominant numbers up through Double-A and has performed fairly well in his first taste of Triple-A this year. Over 28 1/3 innings with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Kriske has a 3.81 ERA with a massive 36.6% strikeout percentage, although throwing strikes has also been an issue at the minors’ top level. He’s doled out free passes to 12.5% of batters faced in the minors this season, and also issued walks at a similar clip in Double-A in 2019.
The Yankees will pace Kriske on waivers over the next few days, where another team could take a no-risk look to see if he can yet carry over that strong swing-and-miss stuff against big league hitters. His fastball has averaged north of 95 MPH in his MLB action, with a mid-80s split his featured secondary offering. Kriske still has one minor league option year remaining after this season, so any claiming team could continue to shuttle him between the majors and Triple-A as the Yankees recently have through the end of next season — so long as they keep him on the 40-man roster.
It has been an eventful past couple weeks for Romano. The 27-year-old signed a minor-league deal with the Yankees in mid-August (his second such arrangement of the season), then was selected to the big league roster but designated for assignment in relatively rapid succession. After clearing waivers, he very briefly hit free agency but will now step right back onto the Yankees’ active roster.
Between the Reds, Yankees and Brewers, Romano has worked 24 innings of relief at the big league level this season. He’s posted subpar numbers, but he has shown well at Triple-A and evidently continues to intrigue the New York front office. Romano is out of options, so the Yankees either have to keep him on the active roster moving forward or again risk losing him on waivers.