The St. Louis Cardinals have released 35-year-old veteran reliever J.C. Romero, who has been thoroughly disappointing this season and has allowed 14 hits and nine runs in eight innings this year. The Cards signed Romero in December to a cheap, incentive-laden one-year deal that was worth $750K.
In response, the Cardinals activated 23-year-old right-hander Eduardo Sanchez, who had a 3.03 FIP in 30 innings last season and was worth 0.4 WAR. It’s good to see Sanchez promoted, especially at the expensive of Romero, whose career is winding down.
Romero has had a quality career and was once worth 2.1 WAR while pitching for the Minnesota Twins. He owns a career 4.15 ERA and was once one of the better relievers in baseball. Now, he is an aging reliever who is way past his prime and is coming off of a 4.70 xFIP season in 24.2 innings in 2011. In fact, his projected ERA for this season was somewhere around 5.50.
In his career, J.C. Romero always struggled with his control and gave out too many free passes. He does a great job of inducing groundballs with a 55 GB% for his career and got about 7.2 strikeouts per nine innings.
Sanchez has struggled through just 13.1 innings in AAA this season with a sky-high walk rate and a 5.38 FIP. He is known for getting punchouts and has always been one to give up a few walks too many, and he is a quality reliever and presents an upgrade for the Cardinals.
Still, a team like the Pittsburgh Pirates could use Romero as a veteran left-hander for the squad. A minor league deal seems sufficient for Romero, who will only be looking to latch on to an MLB club. He could be a fit in Pittsburgh, but the clock is ticking on the former Philadelphia Phillies reliever, so he might want to move to a contender and try for another World Series ring.
His fastball velocity has vastly declined to under 90 miles per hour, and he is allowing more fly balls than he used to. The decreased fastball velocity is affecting his changeup, and Romero is trying to combat his decline by throwing more first pitch strikes. Hitters are swing against him more often, and he has been throwing too many meat pitches this year. Even so, Romero still has a place on a team like Pittsburgh as that veteran LHP and could bounce back and have a 0.2 WAR season. Sadly, that total is his upside at this point, so there aren’t a lot of options for him.