Ricky Romero just a distant Blue Jays memory as spring approaches


On August 10, 2010, the Toronto Blue Jays announced a five-year contract extension with a promising left-handed starter, one who was thought to be the ace of the pitching staff for many years to come. However, the end of that story played out much differently than anticipated.

With Spring Training set to begin in just a handful of days, Ricky Romero is but an afterthought for the Blue Jays, a long-lost promise that is more or less a whisper on the wind.  When the first pitches are thrown in Dunedin this spring, Romero will be nowhere to be found. Removed from the 40-man roster last season and passed through waivers again this winter, the Blue Jays chose not to invite him to Spring Training with the Major League club this February.

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Instead, Ricky Romero will be working out of the minor league camp, with the aim at returning to Triple-A Buffalo and with his $7.5 million salary, probably representing the most expensive starter in the International League, if not all of Minor League baseball. He doesn’t figure into the team’s plans for 2015, and unless something were to go terribly wrong, there isn’t much likelihood that Romero could even force himself into the conversation.

Yet, spring is still a time of renewal, and both the Toronto Blue Jays and Ricky Romero will enter this spring knowing that something new is coming. Spring is the first promise of a new beginning, and this spring will start that journey, with a new beginning for both parties on the horizon.

For the Toronto Blue Jays, 2014 represents the last year of guaranteed money for Ricky Romero. All that stands between the team and the end of that deal is the 2015 season and an easy decision, a choice between a $13.1 million team option or a $600k buy-out of that option. That’s a significant amount of money to free up and spend on the Major League roster, money that has been tied up over the last two seasons and squandered away on the hopes that the ship would right itself.

Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto Blue Jays /

Toronto Blue Jays

And for Ricky Romero, it means a shot at redemption. It is a chance to put two years of struggles, and multiple knee operations behind him. It may be difficult for the lefty to get back to the 2011 form that saw him go 15-11 with a 2.92 ERA and a 7.1 K/9 ERA,  but with a clear goal in mind and the chance to latch on to another team in 2016, Romero will be motivated to find a way to put the past behind him.

At 30-years-old,  there is a chance that Romero could still be a productive Major Leaguer again. He’ll certainly have the opportunity to showcase himself again at Buffalo, and if he can put behind him the 5.50 ERA’s that he’s put up over the last two seasons in Buffalo, another team will certainly grant him a shot at that redemption.

However, that chance will not happen with the Toronto Blue Jays, and that is likely for the best for both parties. Everyone needs a fresh start, and everyone deserves one. The 2015 season is all that separates the Jays and Romero from that redemption, from that new beginning.

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