Blue Jays free agency: High-level relief options and likelihoods

Oct 7, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Brad Ziegler (29) pitches against the against the Cleveland Indians in the sixth inning during game two of the 2016 ALDS playoff baseball series at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 7, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Brad Ziegler (29) pitches against the against the Cleveland Indians in the sixth inning during game two of the 2016 ALDS playoff baseball series at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports /

RHP Sergio Romo  –  33 years old
2016:  San Francisco Giants

This isn’t the same Sergio Romo that saved 38 games and earned an All-Star nod with the Giants in 2013, but if he’s healthy, he may not be far off.

Romo missed a significant portion of 2016 recovering from a flexor strain in his right elbow. It began as arm fatigue early in the season as his velocity dipped, but further testing revealed no structural damage.

A pair of rough playoff outings against the Chicago Cubs in the NLDS ended his season on a sour note, but the veteran still managed to put up some nice regular season numbers over his 40 appearances.

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table

The end result of 2016 had Romo being valued at 0.2 Wins Above Replacement after values of 1.1 or higher in six of the last seven seasons.

His surface level stats and ratios remained quite strong, though. Romo has always brought excellent control to his late-inning role and continued that by walking just 2.1 batters per nine innings. He also consistently manages to turn his relatively low velocities into some high strikeout totals.

Home runs have become an issue in two of the past three seasons for Romo. His career average of allowing 0.8 per nine innings is manageable, but 1.4-1.5 isn’t.

Romo’s sinker-slider mix leans more heavily towards the slider, but his velocity did creep back across the board this year. Both of his primary pitches lost about 1.5 MPH, bringing his average “hard stuff” down to 86.0 MPH. Romo has always been a reliever that succeeds in spite of his uncommon power, but unless that bounces back, it could become more difficult.

Next: Jays offseason an educated marathon, not a blind sprint

Much like his teammate Casilla, Romo would fill a similar role on the Blue Jays to Benoit in 2016. He’s been especially strong against right-handers in his career, though, so some strong bullpen management could really squeeze the maximum remaining value out of him.

Caution over his elbow might rob Romo of a guaranteed second year, but a low-risk option year might appeal to some teams. All it takes is one front office to believe in his elbow, though.

Likelihood:  Unlikely given risk of regression