Multiple reports surfaced earlier this week that the Minnesota Twins had re-signed reliever Sergio Romo. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez was first to report the sides moving toward a deal, and the team confirmed it on Friday morning.
MLB Network insider Jon Heyman followed up with the details: one year, $5 million with a club option that could allow the deal to reach a value of $10 million total.
Romo came to the Twins in a trade deadline deal with Miami, joining pitcher Chris Vallimont as part of the package going to Minnesota in exchange for first baseman Lewin Diaz. Romo had a strong run with the Twins, tossing 22.2 innings with a 3.18 ERA and 27-4 K/BB ratio.
Opposing batters hit just .198/.247/.360 against Romo following the trade.
Romo turns 37 in March, and has posted a career ERA of 2.92 with 10.0 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 and a 1.02 WHIP. He’ll slot in nicely to an improving bullpen that’ll also include fellow 30-something Tyler Clippard, whom the team signed on Friday.
The team was actually first with the announcement — something that rarely happens in this day and age.
The Clippard signing pushes the team’s 40-man roster to 38, with still room to make additions as the winter rages on. The Clippard deal is for one year and $2.75 million, per Jeff Passan of ESPN.com.
With the addition of Clippard, the general outline of the bullpen looks as follows (assuming eight relievers on a 26-man roster):
- Taylor Rogers
- Trevor May
- Tyler Duffey
- Zack Littell
- Cody Stashak
- Wild card between one more signing or a youngster such as Devin Smeltzer/Lewis Thorpe/Jorge Alcala/etc.
Clippard is a name that’ll be familiar to Twins fans — and baseball fans in general — for a lot of reasons. First of all, the Twins will be the 10th MLB team he’s played for, and third in the American League Central. He spent part of 2017 with the Chicago White Sox and all of last season with the Cleveland Indians.
And perhaps weakening what was a fairly strong Cleveland bullpen last season is part of the news that won’t make the headlines, but he played a very big part in the bridge to Brad Hand last season.
Clippard, who turns 35 in February, had a 2.90 ERA in 62 innings with the Indians last season. He fanned 64 batters (9.3 K/9) and walked just 15 (2.2 BB/9), and most importantly kept the ball in the park (1.16 HR/9) despite his penchant for fly balls (28.1 percent groundball rate).
Home runs have not been much of an issue over Clippard’s entire career despite that fly ball rate, and that should help the righty keep his ERA in check with an outfield that employs both Max Kepler and Byron Buxton — two of the better defenders at their respective positions.
He’s also been remarkably consistent over the past decade-plus:
Teams often pay dearly for this kind of consistency in free agency from a reliever. Consider:
Player A is David Robertson. Player B is Clippard.
Clippard can also be classified as a lefty in disguise. For his career, Clippard has allowed a slash line of .187/.265/.322 to lefties, and in his 13-year career, he’s allowed an OPS of .700 or less to lefties 10 times — including under .600 on seven occasions.
Righties are a different story, but not drastically so over his entire career. They’ve hit .207/.295/.387 against him, though some of his tougher years against them have come recently. In 2018, righties had an .824 OPS against Clippard. In 2019, that mark was .746. In 2017, it was .735.
None of those are particularly offensive, but don’t doubt for a second that Rocco Baldelli and his staff are unaware of the splits and ready to use him in the way to make him most successful.
Sure, Twins fans are still waiting for the front office to reel in the big fish — and to be fair, the offseason won’t be termed a success without at least one via free agency or trade — but the re-additions of Romo, Michael Pineda and Jake Odorizzi in addition to signing Alex Avila and Clippard are a nice step in the right direction.
That is, defending the team’s 2019 AL Central crown — and whatever else might lie after that.