The Rays announced Tuesday that right-handers Tommy Romero and Kevin Herget have been designated for assignment, thus clearing space on the 40-man roster for right-hander JT Chargois and lefty Brendan McKay to be reinstated from the 60-day injured list. McKay has been optioned to Triple-A Durham, while Chargois will step directly into the big league bullpen. Both Romero and Herget will be placed on waivers within the week, as neither can be traded now that the Aug. 2 deadline has passed.
Romero, 25, figures to be more appealing to other organizations than your typical DFA, given his relative youth, full slate of remaining minor league options and strong performance in Triple-A to this point in the season. Through 66 2/3 innings in Durham thus far, he’s pitched to a 3.51 ERA with a 20.9% strikeout rate, 9% walk rate and 37.7% ground-ball rate. That walk rate is a bit of an abnormality, as Romero turned in lower walk rates in recent years and was credited with plus-plus command in Baseball America’s most recent scouting report, wherein they pointed out that Romero posted one of the highest strike rates in the minors last year (68.8%).
Earlier in the season, Romero was working out of the rotation in Durham, and he got the ball to “start” one game with the big league club as well (albeit as an opener). More recently, the Rays have been deploying Romero in short-relief stints down in Triple-A, perhaps taking a look at him in that role for a late-season add to the bullpen. The progression of other arms on the injured list, however, has squeezed him out of the mix for the time being, even in spite of excellent numbers since sliding to the bullpen (0.59 ERA, 18-to-3 K/BB ratio in 15 1/3 innings).
A former 15th-round pick of the Mariners (2017), Romero landed in the Rays organization by way of the 2018 Denard Span/Alex Colome trade between Tampa Bay and Seattle. He’s never ranked among the Rays’ very top tier of prospects, but Baseball America tabbed him 22nd among Tampa farmhands just a few weeks ago when updating their ranking of the Rays’ system. Every team is going to have its own evaluation of Romero, of course, but it’d be somewhat of a surprise if another team didn’t claim him — particularly with so many non-contenders in need of cost-controlled arms.
It’s unfortunate, to say the least, that Herget didn’t get into a game during his brief time with the big league squad. Selected to the roster on Aug. 19, the 31-year-old, former 39th-round pick’s ascent to the Majors after a nine-year minor league grind was a feel-good story for any baseball fan, regardless of where one’s allegiance may lie. Herget surely relishes the mere call to the big leagues, the few days of service time and the few days of Major League pay he’ll receive, but it’d have been a thrill for both him and for fans to see him get at least an inning in the show.
It’s possible, of course, that he may yet receive that opportunity. Herget’s promotion to the Majors was well earned based on his Triple-A performance this season. In 80 1/3 innings, he’d logged a 2.45 ERA with a 25.2% strikeout rate, a minuscule 3.4% walk rate and a 34.4% ground-ball rate. A 31-year-old journeyman of this nature isn’t typically claimed off waivers, but perhaps a team in need of some immediate rotation depth will be heartened by those gaudy results in Durham and speculate on a more-or-less free look. Failing that, he’ll head back to Durham and continue the grind, hoping for another shot at the Majors that includes an actual appearance on the bump.