The Giants have signed right-hander Tommy Romero to a minor league deal, according to his transactions tracker at MLB.com. The Beverly Hills Sports Council client has been assigned to Triple-A Sacramento but could perhaps receive an invite to big league Spring Training.
Romero, 26, is not too far removed from being a notable prospect in the Rays system. In 2021, he tossed 110 1/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, with a combined 2.61 earned run average that year. He paired a 33.3% strikeout rate with a 7.1% walk rate. The Rays added him to their 40-man roster that November to keep him out of the Rule 5 draft and Baseball America ranked him the #21 prospect in the organization going into 2022.
He was able to make his MLB debut in 2022, logging 8 1/3 innings over four appearances. He allowed 10 earned runs in that time, walking nine while striking out seven. He was claimed off waivers by the Nationals in August and one of those four appearances was with the Nats. He spent the rest of the year in Triple-A, between those two orgs, with a 3.24 ERA in 86 innings. His peripherals backed up a bit, with his strikeout rate falling to 20.2% and his walk rate ticking up to 9.6%.
The Nats non-tendered Romero at the end of 2022 and re-signed him to a minor league deal for 2023. He tossed 87 2/3 innings over 10 starts and 26 relief appearances last year with a 5.44 ERA. His 20.4% strikeout rate was somewhat similar to the year before but he gave out free passes at a huge 15.2% clip.
It obviously wasn’t his strongest season but he is still fairly young and was a well-regarded prospect in the recent past. For the Giants, there’s no risk in signing him to a minor league deal to get an up-close look at him. He has worked both as a starter and a reliever in his career and the Giants have shown a strong willingness to abandon the distinction between those two jobs. Logan Webb, Alex Cobb and Kyle Harrison were the only hurlers on the club to be used exclusively in the rotation last year, as guys like Sean Manaea, Anthony DeSclafani, Alex Wood, Ross Stripling, Jakob Junis and others were moved back and forth between starting and relieving.
Manaea and DeSclafani are now on different clubs while Wood and Junis are free agents and Cobb is set to begin the year on the injured list due to hip surgery. Robbie Ray was recently acquired from the Mariners but is still recovering from last year’s Tommy John surgery and will also start the season on the IL. There’s little certainty in the Opening Day rotation beyond Webb. Stripling is still there but coming off a poor season. Harrison is still lacking in experience, as are guys like Tristan Beck and Keaton Winn. The club is going to give reliever Jordan Hicks a chance to start but it’s unclear if that will yield positive results. The bullpen has a solid foursome with Camilo Doval, Luke Jackson and the Rogers brothers but no one else with even one year of major league service time.
The club could still bolster that mix between now and Opening Day but there could be a path to logging some innings for depth guys. If Romero makes it onto the roster at any point this season, he has a couple of option years, allowing him to potentially provide the club with some roster flexibility.