The headline may sound harsh, but it’s meant to. But before you think that anyone is speaking poorly of either the Cincinnati Reds or of Sal Romano, take a deep breath and understand that is not what is happening here. Earlier today Romano cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Louisville by the Reds. He got an invite to big league spring training, so he will be in camp and pitching for a job on the Reds. For Cincinnati, that’s a good thing.

But for Sal Romano, that’s not exactly a good thing. He’s no longer on the 40-man roster, and he’s also out of options, and now that he’s been designated for assignment once, he can also choose free agency if he is designated for assignment again in the future. All of that works against him when it comes to getting any sort of call up to the big leagues unless the team is just about certain that he’s going to stick for good.

It also doesn’t exactly make too much sense that every team in baseball passed on adding him to their 40-man roster. In some instances passing up on a guy with 41 career Major League starts under his belt who averaged over 96 MPH with his fastball last season might make some sense. Does it make sense for a team that’s completely loaded with pitching to pick him up given that he had no options? No, maybe it didn’t.

But then we take a look at a team like the Baltimore Orioles. Obviously there’s a lot of things that are going to happen between today and Opening Day, but here is what the current top five starters on the Baltimore Depth Chart look like and what they did last season in the Major Leagues:

The projected #5, #6, and #7 starters have never thrown a big league pitch. The #8 starter gave up 28 home runs last year in 80.0 innings. Their #2 and #3 starters combined for 37.2 innings in the big leagues last year, and in those innings they got absolutely obliterated.

While there’s only so much faith you put in a projection system, ZiPS has released their projections for 27 of the 30 Major League teams so far this offseason. While Dan Szymborski has threatened to Karate Chop anyone just adding up the WAR total from the depth charts, I’ve been doing it anyways. And among the 27 rotations in baseball that have had their ZiPS posted, the Orioles are dead last. And they are dead last by a large amount. If you doubled the projected Orioles starting pitching WAR they would still be in last place by 1.2 WAR. There are multiple Cincinnati Reds pitchers projected for more WAR in 2020 than the entire Baltimore Orioles rotation.

That team decided that Sal Romano couldn’t help them. Somehow they came to the conclusion that even as a depth option to look at in spring training as a starting pitcher, was not worth it. And I can’t figure out how that’s possible. The Orioles have questions up and down their entire rotation outside of John Means. It would be one thing if they passed on someone with a David Price-like salary. But Romano will be making the league minimum, so there’s no real risk. If he wasn’t one of your 13 best pitchers at the end of the spring, then you can designate him for assignment. We’ll have to wait and see how the Baltimore pitching staff performs in 2020, but it’s tough to make sense of how they decided to pass on a guy like Romano.

15 Responses

  1. Oldtimer

    Romano looked good when I saw him pitch in 2018 ST. Didn’t see him pitch in 2019 ST.

  2. B-town fan

    Sal Romano not being picked up by the Orioles and a couple others is quite puzzling. The Orioles are one of worst run organizations in baseball and from what I’ve read over the last several years it starts with the ownership. It’s a long way from the glory days of the Orioles of Palmer and Brooks Robinson and Ripkin when they were kind of like the Cardinals of today or the Reds of the 70’s and made periodic trips to the Playoffs and World Series. They beat the first Big Red Machine team in the 1970 World Series. Hopefully Sal can work some things out and make some improvements working with Derick Johnson a second spring training, and make the team as a reliever, because he’s got a good arm, just needs to put it together.

  3. Justin

    The Orioles are trying to get high draft picks. Maybe Romano is too good…

  4. Stock

    Why is Romano better than Akin, Bailey or Rucker? He may be just as average as those 3 but one thing that jumps out to me is that Akin and Bailey struck our 10+/9IP. Romano was < 9. Romano may be better for 2019. But long term Romano is not a MLB SP. Akin could be. I would roll the dice and go with Akin also.

    Romano's history shows he is not a good RP. I don't know how he fits in on a long term basis in the majors.

    • Doug Gray

      It’s not that he’s some guarantee to be better, it’s that the Orioles (among some other teams) could have given him a look in the spring in a situation where they have about one starter they should be counting on heading into the spring. And if he would get beat out – then things worked out. But to just let an arm like that pass when that’s what you’ve got is a real head scratcher.

      • Stock

        It is not as simple as just adding him. If they add him to the 40 man they have to not only drop someone from their current 40 man roster but they have to guarantee him a starting spot come spring. He has proven he is not a RP. His lack of remaining options makes him less valuable than others.

  5. Gaffer

    Is this one of those statements like “yourman Rodriguez will DEFINITELY be picked up when he was released” and He never played organized ball again?

    Let’s hope Sal doesn’t make this team, that’s a bad sign.

  6. Mustang John

    Yorman was cut from a different cloth than Sal . Enough said

  7. DaveCT

    You’d think that with his arm and his size, he’d be a no brainer for someone like the Mariners, who are pleading with Tijuan Walker to return, let alone the AAA franchise in Baltimore. “Strange days, indeed. Most peculiar, mama.”
    Bonus if you get the writer of those song lyrics.

    As many know, I’m a big fan of Sal as he played his HS ball not far from my hometown, as did major leaguers, Rob Dibble, Carl Pavano and Chris DeNorfia (just hired by the Rockies to manage their AA team in Hartford).

    One primary oddity in all this is his heavy sinker. JJ Cooper used to allude to titanium and other heavy metals in describing it. Romano seemed a match made in heaven with that pitch, throwing lots and lots of ground balls. So what gives? No one thinks they can work with that? Not some of those big cavernous stadiums such as The aforementioned Seattle, or San Diego? This is not in any way a bad kid or even a difficult kid.

    Who knows, Doug. I sure as heck don’t. I’d like to see him hang in there and be on the Louisville shuttle then perhaps get a better chance elsewhere or here if it comes to pass.

    If not, he’ll go down as the asterisk who was drafted right behind Amir Garrett in the 20th round if another time.

  8. Colorado Red

    Really surprised he was not picked up.
    Would think one of the bad teams would pick him up.
    I could have seen the Rockies picking him up, and see what he did in ST.
    If he does not stick on the 26 man, does he need to go through waivers again.

  9. Tom

    He just needs a put away pitch. I think his best shot is in Cincy with this new system. Sure 2020 will be a lot of AAA, but if he performs well then in 2021 he will have a great shot to stick.

  10. CP

    Couldn’t agree with you more on the sentiment Doug. I am thrilled that Romano is still with the Reds, but I am equally blown away he wasn’t claimed. What a perfect opportunity for Boddy and our new and improved player development group to get ahold of someone who needs one more shot to prove they can help out at a major league level. Romano can go to ST with a chip on his shoulder and quietly grind his way to his next shot. Between injuries and the grind of the big 162, he has a great chance to get another shot at the ML bullpen.