Drafted by the Blue Jays in the tenth round of the 2014 MLB Draft, Markham, Ontario’s Jordan Romano has been one of the best arms in the bullpen this season. This comes after a strong 2020 campaign that saw the right-hander earn his first major league save but also battled injuries on his way to a 1.23 ERA through 15 outings and 14.2 innings, striking out 21 batters along with a 0.886 WHIP.
Although Romano is finding success on the diamond now, the Blue Jays closer was almost taken away from the franchise back in the 2018/2019 off-season via the Rule 5 draft.
After being drafted by the Jays in 2014, Romano was still left off the 40-man roster heading into the 2019 season and was eligible for the Rule 5 draft because he accumulated four seasons of pro ball experience without being on the roster.
This led to the Chicago White Sox selecting him third overall in the draft and then trading him to the Texas Rangers for cash considerations. This is the same draft that saw southpaw Travis Bergen be selected by the San Francisco Giants (later returned) and the Blue Jays select Elvis Luciano from the Kansas City Royals, who is still in the organization today.
After being selected by the Texas Rangers in the Rule 5 Draft in late 2018, Jordan Romano was returned to the Blue Jays and has blossomed into the club’s most effective reliever this year.
It made sense why the White Sox and Rangers were interested in Romano, as the Canadian posted a 4.13 ERA through 25 starts and 137.1 innings with the AA New Hampshire Fisher Cats in 2018. He racked up 125 strikeouts while throwing a mid to high 90’s fastball and was looking at a promotion to AAA before being selected in the Rule 5 draft.
With the Rangers in Spring Training prior to the 2019 season, Romano posted a 3.86 ERA through 9.1 innings, appearing in seven games while allowing four earned runs with five walks, six strikeouts, and two home runs allowed on his way to a 1.29 WHIP.
While these numbers are not disappointing by any means, the Rangers decided to place him on waivers prior to Opening Day and he was returned to the Blue Jays organization and would begin the season in AAA with the Buffalo Bisons. He would make his major league debut later that year but would pitch to mixed results, earning a 7.63 ERA through 15.1 innings.
After a strong 2020 campaign, Romano has certainly found his groove this season where he has run away with the closer role and boasts one of the best ERA’s in the Jays bullpen, pitching to a 2.33 ERA and holding a narrow lead over Tim Mayza in appearances with 58. The fireballer also has 76 strikeouts on the season and a 1.03 WHIP while holding opponents to a .187 batting average.
While it may not have been a big deal at the time, it is a stroke of luck that the Rangers decided not to hang on to Romano. Having a Canadian on the Blue Jays is always a sight to see, and the fact that the right-hander has blossomed into a dependable reliever and late-inning arm is a benefit considering he is not eligible for free agency until 2026, joining a young core that boasts offensive talents like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and arms like Nate Pearson and Alek Manoah in the rotation.
While 2015 might be known for the bat flip and 2016 is when Josh Donaldson stole the show against the Rangers, chalk up the 2018/2019 off-season for the Blue Jays as their ALDS rivals failed to once again capitalize on an opportunity to bolster their pitching corps by returning Jordan Romano.