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The Tampa Bay Rays should pursue Sergio Romo

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The Rays were the high bidders for Romo this off-season, and they could bid for him again.

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at San Diego Padres Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday the Los Angeles Dodgers designated RHP Sergio Romo for assignment, ending his short tenure with the team.

Romo signed with the Dodgers this past off-season for one year with $3M guaranteed to him, but unfortunately for both him and Los Angeles, things just didn’t work out. Romo appeared in 30 games (25.0 innings pitched) for Los Angeles this season and allowed a total of 17 runs on 23 hits, including 7 HR.

The Tampa Bay Rays were in on Romo until he signed with the Dodgers. Indeed, there were even reports that the Rays had offered him more money, but he still chose to play for his hometown team in Los Angeles.

The Rays are searching in every cranny and crevice around the major leagues in the hopes of landing a bullpen arm, and now one of their most sought after off-season targets is available to them. One has to believe they’ll be interested in adding him to their bullpen.

Romo came to the Dodgers after spending the past nine years with the San Francisco Giants, providing San Francisco with a dominant late inning arm while becoming a fan favorite. Originally drafted in the 28th round of the 2005 draft, he surged through the system to make his MLB debut in 2008 and eventually became a staple in the Giants pen.

His struggles in 2017 have been due to the home run ball and a lack of command. Over 25% of his flyballs allowed are leaving the park, way up from his career rate, which is below 10%. Romo’s 2017 walk percentage (11.1%), meanwhile, is double his career rate (5.5%).

Despite his velocity also having ticked down from career norms (from high to mid 80’s)...

... Romo is still striking out opposing hitters at a solid rate. Romo currently has his highest K/9 since his incredible 2011 season when he struck out 40% of opposing hitters. Whether Romo can return to his career trends is of course unknown, but there are some things to like about Romo’s season.

Romo is 34 years old, so his decreased velocity and diminished control be irreversible signals of the twilight of his career. But the Rays may want to take the gamble in hopes he still has an effective playoff run left in him. At the least, the veteran closer could provide a level of comfort over the likes of inexperienced arms, such as Adam Kolarek and Andrew Kittredge, that have been riding the shuttle from Durham.

Romo has a gaudy 6.12 ERA and 5.74 FIP in 2017, when five of his previous six seasons in San Francisco had ERA below 3.00, including a 2.68 ERA in 2016.