The Cincinnati Reds have officially signed right-handed reliever Pedro Strop to a 1-year deal worth $1,825,000. When it was first reported a few days ago there were several reported performance bonuses involved with his contract that could nearly double the value of his contract. After arriving in town and passing his physical, the Reds and Strop both put ink to paper and made the contract official. In order to create a spot for Strop on the 40-man roster the team designated right-handed pitcher Sal Romano for assignment.
The Reds originally selected Sal Romano in the 23rd round of the 2011 draft. Don’t let the draft round fool you, though – he got a signing bonus in line with a 2nd or 3rd round pick. He worked his way through the Cincinnati farm system as a starting pitcher before making his Major League debut in 2017. He made 16 starts for the Reds that season, posting a 4.45 ERA (101 ERA+) in 87.0 innings. In 2018 he would start 25 games for the Reds, and then pitch out of the bullpen for another 14 games. His ERA jumped up to 5.31 that season as he threw 145.2 innings.
Last year saw Romano spend most of his time in Triple-A where he pitched mostly out of the bullpen. He made five starts and 38 relief appearances where he posted a 4.28 ERA with 76 strikeouts in 69.1 innings. In Cincinnati he would make another 12 appearances out of the bullpen, posting a 7.71 ERA in 16.1 innings with 16 more strikeouts.
The now 26-year-old is out of options. That may have played a role in why he was the choice to be designated for assignment. The Reds have a lot of competition for relatively few spots in the bullpen, and several options along with Romano had to stick to the 26-man roster or be placed on waivers.
It feels safe to me that Sal Romano will be claimed on waivers. He’s a guy who could probably fight for a starters role on a team that needs starting pitching. In the bullpen you’re looking at a guy who averaged 96.5 MPH last season who has touched 99. He’s got the kind of arm teams are likely going to give a shot to.