Last season, J.C. Romero, claimed off waivers, helped stabilize a bullpen in disarray. Yesterday, the Phillies returned the favor with a three-year, $12 million extension with a club option for a fourth season.
From the news release -- Romero, 30, went 2-2 with one save and a 1.92 ERA in 74 combined games between the Phillies and Red Sox. He began the season with Boston and had a 3.15 ERA in 23 games before being released on June 18. Romero signed a Minor League contract with the Phils on June 23 and debuted six days later.
In 51 games with the Phillies, Romero posted a 1.24 ERA and held opponents to a .130 average. Left-handers were just 5-for-40 (.125) against him, including 1-for-18 (.056) to finish the season. Romero did not allow a home run to a left-handed hitter all season (77 AB), extending his streak to 153 at-bats against left-handed hitters without allowing a homer.
"I'm glad I didn't have to go out and test the free agent market," said Romero. "I had a great time with the Phillies and really wanted to come back.”
A native of Puerto Rico, Romero was originally selected by Minnesota in the 21st round of the 1997 draft. In parts of nine seasons, he is 28-24 with three saves and a 4.30 ERA for the Twins, Angels, Red Sox and Phillies. Should the Phillies pick up the final option year, the total value of this deal climbs to $16.75 million.
Beerleaguer: This isn’t a deal that would have been topped by any club, and I'm having a tough time getting bent out of shape about it. Left-handed relief would have immediately become the greatest pound-for-pound hole on the Phillies roster if Romero walked away.
Romero is the type of supporting cast member championship teams employ, and the one thing holding the Phillies back all these years was the cavernous difference between the best and worst players on the roster. The acquisition of Brad Lidge, along with the Romero extension, shows a commitment to sealing the cracks with better talent while the foundation players are in their prime.
Romero has been a solid, but never elite, reliever due to inconsistency brought on by command and a traditionally wide difference in splits. He brings great energy to the mound and doesn't back down in big spots. He didn’t allow a run in September, and only four hits during that span.
The long-term deal symbolizes a show of faith in ability, mechanics and health, but it would be unwise to expect the same level of dominance next season.