Mar 12, 2014; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Ricky Romero (24) throws a pitch during the sixth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Florida Auto Exchange Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Ricky Romero as 5th Starter a Win/Win for Toronto Blue Jays

Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

I would like to build on Michael Wray’s recent post outlining Ricky Romero’s spring training success. I would like to touch on why I think Ricky Romero should be strongly considered for the final two spots in the rotation.

Before we get too ahead of ourselves let us revisit Romero’s contract status and current standing in the Blue Jays organizational depth chart.

Romero was signed a five-year, $30.1 million contract extension in 2010. The term is for the 2011-15 seasons with a club option for the 2016 season. It is a safe bet that if Romero does not continue showing signs of re-establishing himself as one of the top three on this staff, or at the very least show that he could be a serviceable fifth starter, that improvement the club option will not be exercised. The contract itself is a very team friendly one, with the minor exception of Romero being a Triple-A pitcher for the past two and half seasons. He will make $7.5 million in 2014 and 2015, and $13 million in his option year.

Romero is not part of the current 40-man roster, which means that he can be sent to minors without having to pass him through waivers. This also means a player would need to be removed from the 40-man roster if Romero was added. There are other circumstances that could result in Romero being added to the 40-man, such as trades and injuries (god I hope I didn’t just jinx anyone).

Romero still has three weeks to continue showing management signs that he has regained his old form or show them there is still work to be done. There aren’t too many people that don’t want to see Romero succeed, as most of us, love a good underdog/comeback kid story. I would love to see Romero succeed, since I regard him as the best option to transform this rotation into one Jays fans can believe in…..if he has regained his form.

This spring has had ample talk about how many options years player B has versus the lack of option years player C has. Every team struggles with this dilemma and will attempt to sneak a guy to minors when they haven’t performed well during camp because they don’t want to lose a talent or depth. It’s this talk that makes sending Romero to Buffalo to start the season, no matter how good he pitches, perfect sense. From a depth standpoint and hoarding talent we should send every pitcher which still hold option years and carry only those players out or options north (Queue the moans) to Toronto.In principle I agree 100% with that  philosophy. However, spring performances, career numbers, and fielding the best possible team on opening day must carry weight in the decision process.

That is why I believe ‘if’ Ricardo ‘Ricky’ Romero Jr. continues to improve, he should be added to the 40-man roster before the end of spring training.  When Toronto outrighted Romero last June, not one team claimed him and I couldn’t imagine any team claiming him if, after five starts, the Romero of 2012-13 shows up.  If a claim is made we could either pull him off waivers or say good bye to Romero, which would save $15.6 million ($600,000 buyout) over the next two seasons. So really what is the risk? He could regain his form with another team, but he was doing with this team.

What if Romero is able to build on the success that he has experienced to this point in spring training? That would be huge, no it would be HUGE. His own teammates feel that Romero of old is capable of being a better pitcher than Ervin Santana.

“I don’t think anybody in here thinks that we need someone else if we get what we think we can out of our guys,” Morrow added. “If Ricky comes back, that’s huge. Ricky as Ricky is better than any free agent we could have gotten anyway. That’s like signing a No. 1 starter at the top of his game if we get Ricky back like he was a couple of years ago.”

Romero of 2009-11 would be able to transform the rotation into one which Blue Jays fans could believe in and possibly inspire hope that this team can indeed compete in 2014, but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. A lot can happen in three short weeks.

Tags: Ricky Romero Toronto Blue Jays

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