It had been mostly a foregone conclusion that reliever Pedro Strop was going to be a member of the Cincinnati Reds in 2020. News of such a deal first broke almost a full week ago, though the Reds themselves hadn’t yet confirmed the signing since then.
That changed today, however, as the club announced that he’ll indeed get a 1-year deal with a base salary of some $1.825 million, though as referenced in the above-linked article, there is an expectation that there will be clauses that could almost double that salary with some good, durable performance.
Since we’ve had a week to marinate on Strop - and, in particular, how a healthy hamstring can theoretically help him bounce-back to his normal self in 2020 - let’s focus on the latter half of that announcement. The Reds have designated Sal Romano for assigment to make room on the roster for Strop, which is certainly an interesting move.
Romano, 26, logged just 16.1 IP at the big league level in 2019 after being leaned on for 145.2 IP by the Reds during the 2018 season, though there was certainly reason for that. The revamped starting rotation featuring Sonny Gray and Tanner Roark pushed Sal down the pecking order to AAA and, as a result, to largely a relief role, and despite the uptick in his stuff as a result he still struggled to retire batters at a good enough clip. He posted a 4.28 ERA and 1.41 WHIP at Louisville, and in his short stints with the Reds allowed a rough 14 ER in those 16.1 IP.
While performance and a crowded pitching staff were certainly complicating factors for the Reds in their roster crunch, that Sal was entering the 2020 season out of options certainly didn’t help his cause.
What’s perhaps just as interesting about the DFA of Romano is who was kept on the roster in his stead. The Reds still have a major amount of outfielders on their 40-man, including the out of options Scott Schebler and his threadbare shoulder. That he continues to maintain a roster spot despite being doubled-up on the roster is quite the interesting development, and perhaps signals that the Reds know more about how healthy he is right now than we know.
Roster conspiracies aside, having Strop officially in the fold certainly helps bolster the back end of the bullpen, and adds some much needed experience to an otherwise green group.