The Blue Jays signed 25-year-old former top-10 pick Ricky Romero to a five year, $30.1 million contract that will keep him signed with the team through 2015 on Saturday.
Romero, the team's first round pick in 2005, has a 3.53 ERA and 3.40 FIP on the season. Not much of a strikeout pitcher in the minor leagues, he’s really refined his stuff in the majors, and thus far has a 7.76 strikeout rate on the season.
He’s also a groundball pitcher (54 percent GB-rate both this year and last) and while his control is still a bit shaky, it’s improved over the past year and is currently no worse than average.
Overall, he’s got a great skill set and at just 25 he still has room to grow by improving his command, and becoming the ace the Blue Jays hoped he could be when they selected him sixth overall.
Let’s break the deal down.
Right off the bat, the Jays will be giving Romero a $1.25 million signing bonus. In 2011, Romero will make $750K, a few thousand more than he would have had he not signed the deal, but nothing major. This is his final pre-arbitration year, and the Jays aren’t paying much for it.
Had Romero not signed this deal, he would have gone through arbitration in 2012, 2013, and 2014. Now, the Blue Jays have him under control and will pay him an average of $6.7 million over the three year stretch. Even if Romero simply continues to pitch at the level he has, he’ll be well worth the money.
The best part about this deal from the Jays perspective is that they now control one or two of Romero’s free agent years. In 2015, Romero will be right in the middle of his prime at 30 years old. The Jays have him locked up at $7.5 million for the 2015 season, and can exercise a $13.1 million option for 2016. Should Romero get hurt, or should his performance suffer, they can buy out the 2016 season for just $600K.
Romero gets a great deal of financial security out of this deal, and while it would be nice to hit the free agent market at 29 years old, he’s now guaranteed $30-plus million over the next five seasons. This is certainly a good deal from his perspective.
I also like this deal for the Blue Jays. Romero is a very talented pitcher, and he’s only getting better. If he develops into the front-line starter he seems capable of becoming, having his arbitration years control could be huge in the Blue Jays rebuilding efforts, and keeping him under contract for two prime-age free-agent years is also a major plus.