The Oakland A’s bullpen was ravaged by free agency at the beginning of this winter, losing four relievers including their star closer. However, a late surge of additions was capped off Sunday night with one more particularly impactful pickup.
The A’s signed free agent reliever Sergio Romo to a one-year contract, reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. It’s a $2.25 million deal, adds Jeff Passan of ESPN.
The Romo news came just 19 minutes after word that Oakland had also brought back their own free agent reliever Yusmeiro Petit on a similar one-year pact. Plus, two days ago they acquired lefty Adam Kolarek from the Dodgers.
For 13 seasons now, Romo has simply been one of the better relievers in the majors. He spent nearly a decade with the Giants and won three rings, including a stint as an All-Star closer. He kept earning saves with the Rays in 2018 and Marlins in 2019, and then settled in as a reliable setup man for the division-winning Twins through the end of 2020.
Romo, 2019-20: 3.59 ERA, 80? ip, 83 Ks, 24 BB, 10 HR, 3.84 FIP, .280 xwOBA
For his career he’s converted 134 saves and 188 holds with only 31 blown, a sterling 91% success rate. More recently, in the last two seasons, he’s converted 52 save/holds with only four blown (93%). He’s also been excellent with inherited runners, allowing a low rate of 26% to score for his career, though he can be volatile in that regard year by year — for example, he let through only 4-of-20 in 2019, but then surrendered all six he inherited last summer.
Entering age 38, Romo is still chugging along as a consistently effective late-inning reliever. He’s never been a hard thrower, averaging in the high-80s with his fastball as far back as 2012, and even as that number has crept down under 86 mph he’s continued to record outs. That’s partly because his primary weapon is his devastating slider, which he throws over half the time and dialed up to a career-high 64.8% usage last summer. Mix in a changeup too, and he’s been able to sit down hitters on both sides of the plate and avoid notable platoon splits overall.