The Nationals have claimed right-hander Tommy Romero off waivers from the Rays, and assigned Romero to Triple-A. Both Romero and Kevin Herget were designated for assignment by Tampa Bay on Tuesday, and the Rays announced that Herget been outrighted to Triple-A after clearing waivers.
Romero has a 7.71 ERA over three appearances and 4 2/3 innings for the Rays this season, marking the 24-year-old’s first bit of Major League experience. A 15th-round pick for the Mariners in the 2017 draft, Romero has been in the Rays organization since 2018, and posted some quality numbers down on the farm. He has a 2.66 ERA and 25.91% strikeout rate over 473 2/3 career innings in the minor leagues, with some variance both well above and well below that K%.
Romero has started 80 of his 108 games in the minors, though some of those were rather abbreviated outings, as the Rays experimented with some opener/piggyback starter scenarios. Most recently, Romero has been working only as a reliever, with Tampa eyeing him as bullpen depth rather than rotation help if he got another call later in the season.
The waiver claim now makes that a moot point, and it seems likely the Nationals will stretch Romero out again as a starting pitcher. The Nats have been aggressive on the waiver wire (as noted by the Washington Post’s Jesse Dougherty) in recent months, as the team has used the high waiver priority afforded to Washington’s low position in the standings to audition and check out several players. There isn’t much risk for the rebuilding Nats in seeing if they can find a hidden gem amongst these waiver claims, and in Romero’s case, his age (25), solid minor league track record and his full set of minor league options make him an interesting candidate.