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Oakland A’s rumors: Interest in free agent reliever Sergio Romo

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Reported by MLB insider Jon Morosi.

Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

The Oakland A’s are “among the teams showing interest in free-agent reliever Sergio Romo,” reports MLB insider Jon Morosi. Wherever Romo ends up signing, It’s possible that it might happen by the end of next week’s Winter Meetings, adds insider Jon Heyman.

Oakland is not alone in the pursuit of Romo. There are three teams that are “pretty active” on the free agent reliever, reports Darren Wolfson. It’s not clear whether the A’s are one of those top three contenders, but Wolfson notes the incumbent Twins are not one of the three despite their interest in retaining the right-hander. Wolfson suggests the likely result is a one-year deal with an option.

On the field, Romo enjoyed a strong season this past summer at age 36. He began the year as the Marlins closer, and then was traded to Minnesota in July, where he got the chance to pitch a couple postseason games in the ALDS. He finished with his best numbers since 2015, and converted 37-of-40 save/hold chances for a superb 92.5% success rate.

Romo, 2019: 3.43 ERA, 60⅓ ip, 60 Ks, 17 BB, 7 HR, 3.68 FIP

Looking back further, Romo began his career with nearly a decade of excellence for the Giants, including an All-Star berth in 2013. Since leaving S.F., he’s bounced around to four teams over the last three seasons, ranging from mediocre to pretty darn good during that span and keeping his better-than-average Statcast xwOBA below .300 each year — it went down to .273 in 2019, which is great and around what Yusmeiro Petit posted for Oakland.

Romo has never relied on big velocity, with a fastball that averaged around 88-90 mph in his prime and now averages 86. Instead he leans primarily on his slider, which he throws for over half of his total offerings.

In terms of salary, in each of the last three seasons he’s signed a one-year contract for between $2.5 million to $3 million. He’s now coming off a better performance than in any of those previous three winters, but he’s also older now, entering his age-37 campaign.

The A’s have already begun making moves in their own bullpen this offseason. They declined their expensive option on lefty Jake Diekman but then re-signed him to a more reasonable two-year deal, and they let go of lefty Ryan Buchter (non-tendered) and replaced him with fellow lefty T.J. McFarland (waiver claim). They also non-tendered former All-Star closer Blake Treinen, though “conversations continue” with the right-hander on possibly re-signing, reports insider Martin Gallegos.

Analysis: Romo would be a perfectly fine target. The A’s have had mixed results in recent years with aging, former-star relievers, but Romo has held up well and looks like a relatively safe bet. It’s also hard to see him breaking the bank or commanding a multi-year commitment, so if we’re talking about one year at $5 million or less then he’s as good of a value as anyone. There is still space in the bullpen so Oakland will surely make at least one more addition, and they’ve already taken care of their lefty contingent with Diekman and McFarland, so an experienced and effective late-inning righty on a modest and short contract would be a wonderful fit.