Busy Cardinals add reliever Romero to 'pen
Veteran left-hander is third signing of week for St. Louis
Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak has wasted little time in trying to add to his roster since losing Albert Pujols in free agency a week ago.
The Cardinals filled a need by signing free agent left-handed pitcher J.C. Romero to a one-year deal on Thursday, marking the team's third signing of the week. Earlier this week, St. Louis re-signed shortstop Rafael Furcal to a two-year deal and signed infielder/outfielder Skip Schumaker to a two-year contract to avoid arbitration.
"I think a lot was up in the air as we were in the Pujols negotiations, but when that was resolved it freed up a lot of time so that we were able to start accomplishing some of the things we did this past week," Mozeliak said.
Romero, 35, has spent parts of 13 seasons in the Major Leagues with five teams, going a combined 1-0 with a 4.01 ERA last season with the Phillies and the Rockies. He'll join Marc Rzepczynski to give new St. Louis manager Mike Matheny two lefties in the bullpen.
"We've always tried to have a bullpen with two lefties in there, and when you look at how well Rzepczysnki performed last year, we were looking at someone [in Romero] who had good lefty-on-lefty splits and felt could come in and do that," Mozeliak said. "We certainly think he's capable of doing a more robust role, but he does check that box. That's important to us."
Romero has compiled a 34-28 record with seven saves in 664 games and a 4.07 ERA in his career. He leads Major League left-handers in games pitched from 2002-11 with 633, while his 517 innings during that span ranks second among lefty relievers.
Romero has held lefties to a .208 batting average since 2002, which is the lowest among Major League lefties who have faced a minimum of 800 batters.
With Boston and Philadelphia in 2007, Romero pitched a combined 74 games, allowing just 12 earned runs in 56 1/3 innings (1.92 ERA). In 2008, he pitched in a career-high 81 games for the World Series champion Phillies and surrendered just 18 runs in 59 innings for a 2.75 ERA.
Romero has made six career postseason appearances, three with the Twins and three with Philadelphia, and he pitched for Puerto Rico in both the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classics.
Mozeliak said the Cardinals will now turn their attention to adding some more offense.
"We really haven't nailed down if we think it's going to be an outfielder or a corner player, but we're definitely exploring a lot of different positions out there and will continue to do so," he said.