February 14, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Ricky Romero (24) throws a pitch from the mound as he works out during spring training at Bobby Mattick Training Centre. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY SportsToronto Blue Jays starter Ricky Romero is saying all the right things and trying to put 2012 behind him in an effort to get back to the pitcher he used to be. He’s focusing on what made him successful and going back to square one. All and all, he seems to be doing everything he should.
Still, there is something holding Romero back from succeeding. There is something that is accounting for poor 2012 campaign and then the rough start to his spring. One could look at the 28-year-old lefty and focus on the easy answers like the health of his knees or elbow, both of which required offseason surgery. Or maybe it is as simple as a mechanical flaw.
But it seems bigger than that. While Romero is talking a good game, it is easy to see that his confidence has been shaken. Regardless of how many times he stands in front of the media and says, “I’m confident that I’m going to be back to the guy that everyone’s used to seeing”, the truth of the situation is written on his face and buried in his performances on the mound.
To fix that, perhaps the Blue Jays need to make a different decision, one that would be benefit both Romero and the club. Maybe the only true way to go back to the way Romero used to be is by giving him a fresh start elsewhere.
Think about it for a moment. In Toronto, Romero is shouldering the weight of disappointment after toppling from the staff ace to the weakest link in the rotation. Additionally, he is faced with the pressure of another starter, in J.A. Happ, who is breathing down his neck for a spot in the rotation and has honestly outperformed him both in 2012 and in camp this spring. By trading Ricky Romero and giving him a fresh start with another team, likely one with a proven need in the rotation, that pressure gets lifted and Romero gets the chance to focus on what is important; pitching.
The trick, of course, is finding a suitable trade partner that will also send Toronto a viable component in return. One reason why the team has been reluctant to move Happ is because they want to maintain rotation depth in the off-chance of an injury. That same predicament would handicap a Romero trade as well. Any trade involving Romero would also have to net a pitcher in return, and preferably one with minor league options that would allow the player to be stashed at Triple-A for future depth needs.
So what team would benefit from adding starter of Romero’s pedigree yet still be able to afford to part with a pitcher on the backside?
The Texas Rangers would seem to be the only team that could accommodate such a request. The Rangers are known to be looking for a starter and are known to not be overly enamored with their current crop of rotation hopefuls. Could a deal be had there?
While they are actively linked to the likes of free agent Kyle Lohse and trade candidate Rick Porcello, the cost to acquire Romero would likely be significantly lower. Texas currently has Robbie Ross penciled into an open slot in their rotation, but Ross spent the entire 2012 campaign in a relief role, where he excelled, but the team doesn’t appear to be confident that he can make the transition to full time starter this season.
A swap of Ross for Romero, with the Blue Jays picking up a portion of Romero’s remaining salary, with is still a reasonable $15 million over the next two seasons, may be enough to get a deal done. After all, we are talking about a 28-year-old lefty who was a 6 win (baseball-reference) pitcher just two years ago. While Ross pitched in relief last season, the 23-year-old spent most of his time in the minors as a starter and owns a 2.88 ERA in the role through the Double-A level. With minor league options available, the Blue Jays could stretch him out in the Buffalo while handing the starting slot to Happ to start the season.
Of course, the alternative would be to let Romero ride it out and let Happ deal with his situation as is. But do you, the reader, feel that is the team’s best course of action, or do you think that the Blue Jays should entertain a scenario like the one above?