In comparison to past years, this winter’s offseason has been disappointingly quiet.
However, some dominoes have started to fall in the past few weeks. The top relievers, with the exception of Craig Kimbrel, began to sign with teams, and now the majority of relievers that remain available on the free agent market are ones that will be settling for one-year contracts.
One of those pitchers is Sergio Romo, a veteran pitcher who has impressed out of the bullpen in recent years.
Although he normally comes out of the bullpen, there have been a few times when Romo entered the game out of the dugout: in the first inning, on five different occasions last season, after the Tampa Bay Rays decided to use an “opener,” which is a relief pitcher that starts the game, and lasts one or two innings before being pulled from the game.
It’s a strategy that altered the course of the history of baseball pitchers, and goes against the definition of starting pitchers (those who start the game) and relievers (those who enter the game in relief of another pitcher).
Romo remains one of the best unsigned relievers, and he and his agent have been in discussions with several teams who view Romo as a late-inning reliever, while no clubs have shown interest in using him specifically as an opener.
However, that’s not a bad thing. “His ability to be an opener can only enhance his value,” says Romo’s agent, Barry Meister.
Romo, 36, still has lots of playing time left in him, and has no intention of retiring. “He has been very effective and has no interest in retiring,” confirms Meister. “He would like to sign and get to spring training on time. Sergio loves to compete in the postseason and most important to him is the ability to pitch meaningful innings.”
With Romo preferring to sign as soon as he can so he gets to spring training on time, Meister understands why the offseason has been slow, especially for older athletes. “It has been slow as teams rely on Sabermetrics, which favors younger players,” he said. “Such analysis works against players who reach free agency or remain in free agency after 30 years of age.” Meister suggested that the system needs to be adjusted to recognize the value of these successful, accomplished veterans, pointing out that Romo has three World Series rings for a reason.
It’s worth noting that Romo’s name has come up several times in recent free agency rumors, as FanCred’s Jon Heyman has linked the righty to the Toronto Blue Jays, among other teams, while also suggesting that Romo’s decision on where he will spend his 2019 season could come soon. (Meister could not confirm these exact reports but did mention that several teams have shown interest in his client.)
Rumors continue to swirl, but as Spring Training quickly approaches despite the extreme inactivity of the offseason, it would be nice to see Romo, among others, find their respective 2019 teams.