February 11: Romano cleared waivers and was assigned outright to Triple-A Louisville, per the Reds.
February 5: The Reds announced Wednesday that they’ve designated right-hander Sal Romano for assignment. His removal from the 40-man roster opens a spot for righty Pedro Strop, whose previously reported one-year deal in Cincinnati is now official.
Romano, 26, has shown some promise with the Reds in the upper minors and turned in a solid, albeit unspectacular debut effort back in 2017 when he tossed 87 innings of 4.45 ERA ball (4.24 FIP). Romano averaged 7.6 K/9, 3.8 BB/9 and 0.93 HR/9 to go along with a strong 50.4 percent ground-ball rate in that rookie showing and looked like a potential back-end starter for what was then a still-rebuilding Reds club.
In the two years since that time, however, Romano’s results in the big leagues have cratered. He started 25 games in 2018 and made another 14 relief appearances but saw his ERA balloon to 5.31 as his strikeout rate (6.5 K/9), home-run rate (1.42 HR/9) and grounder rate (45.4 percent) went in the wrong direction. Romano did have some success in his 14 1/3 innings as a reliever that season, so the Reds tried him out as a full-time bullpen piece in 2019, but that experiment didn’t yield better results; Romano pitched to a 4.28 ERA in Triple-A and allowed 14 runs on 22 hits and eight walks in 16 1/3 big league innings (7.71 ERA).
The Reds will now have a week to trade Romano, release him or place him on outright waivers. He’s out of minor league options, so any team that acquires him will either need to carry him on the Opening Day roster or else designate him for assignment once again during Spring Training.