2:05PM: The Nationals have officially announced the selection of Romero’s contract. Hernandez has been placed on the paternity list, while catcher Jakson Reetz has been designated for assignment. Reetz made his MLB debut earlier this season, appearing in two games for Washington.
11:19AM: The Nationals are set to call up right-handed pitching prospect Jhon Romero, according to multiple reports from Colombian reporters (hat tip to The Athletic’s Maria Torres). Washington will create a 40-man roster spot for Romero with some forthcoming moves, and Torres reports that outfielder Yadiel Hernandez is heading for the paternity list.
Romero isn’t listed as a top-30 Nationals prospect by either Baseball America or MLB Pipeline, but the 26-year-old has posted some terrific numbers in 2021. In 47 2/3 innings with Double-A Harrisburg and 7 1/3 innings with Triple-A Rochester, Romero has a combined 2.62 ERA, 30.5% strikeout rate and 4.87% walk rate. This breakout performance has earned Romero his first taste of Major League action in his sixth pro season.
Originally an international signing for the Cubs back in 2015, Romero was dealt to Washington as the return for Brandon Kintzler at the July 2018 trade deadline. Romero had some interesting numbers over his time in Chicago’s organization, though his 2019 season with the Nationals’ A-ball affiliate was marred by injury, limiting him to only 13 2/3 innings.
Romero has pitched exclusively out of the bullpen during his career, and this late-season call-up will give the Nats a look at a pitcher who might end up factoring into their plans for 2022. The Nationals’ relief corps has been a weak link on the team for years, and while the front office will certainly look to bring in some more new faces during the offseason, internal options like Romero will get the opportunity to fill those bullpen holes from within.