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Sergio Romo
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Offseason Lowdown

Lowdown: Fish Reel In Romo

by Nathan Grimm

It's only fitting we open with Sergio Romo.

 

It's what he's used to, after all, or at least what he came to be used to after a 2018 season in which the 35-year-old started five games for the Rays, five more than he had in his career up to that point.

 

Or perhaps we should close with Romo, seeing as how, after his five-start stretch from mid-May to early June, the right-hander transitioned almost seamlessly to the closer role, saving 24 games from June 12 until the end of the season.

 

 

If the when is up for debate, what's more certain after Tuesday is where Romo will be pitching to open the 2019 season -- Miami. Romo and the Marlins agreed to a one-year, $2.5 million deal Tuesday afternoon, according to MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez, with additional incentives possible.

 

Those incentives likely relate to finishing games and/or racking up saves, which does shed some light on how he will be used by the Marlins. The team had yet to confirm the signing Tuesday, nor did anyone from the club provide insight on Romo's possible role.

 

With Kyle Barraclough shipped to the Nationals in one of the very first moves of the offseason and little left in Miami to challenge Drew Steckenrider, it's not hard to see Romo locking down the closer job in short order, too. The duo will likely battle for the role in spring.

 

The closer for a team as bad as the 2019 Marlins are expected to be is not necessarily a high-priority target for fantasy owners, especially given how easily they could flip said closer if he's performing well as the trade deadline approaches, but there's value in a not-awful pitcher -- a designation that applies to both Romo and Steckenrider -- closing games for a baseball team that is a virtual given to win at least 60 of them. It's a battle to watch in camp, but one that shouldn't be overlooked.

 

Quarterback Controversy

 

Perhaps no two-sport athlete, who has never played a single second of either sport at the professional level, has generated as much conversation as Kyler Murray.

 

Murray, simultaneously a Heisman Trophy-winning college quarterback at Oklahoma and the Athletics' first-round pick in 2018, was the center of more discussion Monday when he announced his intentions to focus on football, seemingly to the detriment of his baseball career.

 

"Moving forward, I am firmly and fully committing my life and time to becoming an NFL quarterback," Murray tweeted in a graphic. "Football has been my love and passion my entire life. I was raised to play QB, and I very much look forward to dedicating 100% of myself to being the best QB possible and winning NFL championships. I have started an extensive training program to further prepare myself for upcoming NFL workouts and interviews. I eagerly await the opportunity to continue to prove to NFL decision makers that I am the franchise QB in this draft."

 

While not specifically mentioning the A's or even baseball, the implication Monday seemed to be that Murray, faced with a choice, chose football.

 

The A's, though, are sounding no alarms, at least not externally. Athletics Vice President of Baseball Operations Billy Beane on Monday offered little insight into the team's plans regarding Murray.

 

“There’s nothing new to report, I’m probably going to disappoint you guys a little bit because this isn’t a negotiation or conversations we’ve carried out in public out of respect to the family, plus it makes it easier,” Beane said. “Things have certainly changed since the draft, he won the Heisman Trophy, he’s project to be an early pick and we’ve had ongoing conversations as it relates to the situation and about Kyler’s future, not just with baseball but also potentially with other sports.

 

“I don’t have any answers for you and I probably won’t until we’ve decided on the process, but all I can tell you is it hasn’t been decided and conversations will continue.”

 

We'll likely continue to follow this saga through the NFL Draft and possibly all summer as Murray decides the best option for his future.

 

DeGrom's Decision

 

The Mets' likely Opening Day starter has given the team until his Opening Day start to work out a deal to keep him around for more Opening Days in the future.

 

Jacob deGrom, the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner, told the Mets he'll cease talks on a potential contract extension on Opening Day, per Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen. DeGrom is currently under team control through the 2020 season.

 

"There's no reason for a distraction to carry into the regular season, and we'll continue to have dialogue over the course of this spring and see where those discussions lead," Van Wagenen said. "But the last thing either side wants to do is have this be a distraction once the season starts."

 

DeGrom won the prestigious pitching award after posting a microscopic 1.70 ERA in 32 starts last season. He'll make $17 million this season.

 

Quick Hits: Didi Gregorius (elbow) resumed throwing Monday for the first time since Tommy John surgery. After a pre-spring training workout as the Yankees' minor league complex, Gregorius said he "threw 60 feet, 25 tosses" and didn't feel any pain. He'll likely be rehabbing through the first couple of months of the season. Troy Tulowitzki is slated to fill in at shortstop assuming his health cooperates ... MLB Network's Jon Heyman reports that Gerardo Parra has agreed to a minor league contract with the Giants. Parra has an 80 OPS+ the last three years, and he's average at best defensively in left field these days ... Angels manager Brad Ausmus thinks Shohei Ohtani will be ready to return from elbow surgery sometime in May. The Angels will have Albert Pujols and Justin Bour cover first base and DH to begin this year. Once Ohtani is ready, the other two will have to share one lineup spot ... Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Athletics have agreed to terms with Brett Anderson on a one-year contract. The 31-year-old southpaw posted a 4.48 ERA over 17 starts for the A's last season, although he held a 3.81 mark across 11 outings after the All-Star break. Anderson remains a poor bet to stay healthy -- he's topped 100 major league innings once over the last eight seasons -- but he could be a quality back-end starter for Oakland for as long as he can toe the rubber ... Andy Martino of SNY.tv reports that the Yankees "continue to check in" with Manny Machado's camp. He says that the Yankees "are not the frontrunners" for Machado and "will almost certainly" not make him the highest offer, but "they are not out on him, either." The White Sox and Phillies "have been more aggressive" for the infielder, per Martino. If the Yanks do wind up signing Machado, they would play him at third base and move Miguel Andujar to first base ... MLB Network's Jon Heyman says Bryce Harper isn't considering signing a short-term deal with any team. There's been talk about the Giants offering a short deal, though that would make especially little sense for Harper, considering that they're currently a bad team and they play in a really tough park for left-handed power hitters. San Francisco might still be a nice place for Harper to settle for the long haul, but as a short-term option, it seems like the worst choice for him ... Athletics pitchers A.J. Puk and Jharel Cotton threw bullpen sessions Tuesday for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery last spring ... from the Late-Round Dart-Throw Department: Corbin Burnes enters Brewers camp as a candidate for the starting rotation. Burnes excelled as a rookie reliever last season, delivering a 2.61 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, and 35 strikeouts over his first 38 major league innings. He also posted a ridiculous 1.67 ERA over 145 2/3 innings in the minors in 2017. The 24-year-old right-hander is shaping up as a very attractive late-round gamble in fantasy leagues.

Nathan Grimm
Nathan Grimm is a baseball writer for Rotoworld. He can also be found on Twitter (@Nate_Grimm).