The Rule 5 draft is a perfect place for a rebuilding team to speculate on a player with upside, and the Rangers, entering Year 2 of their rebuild, found such a player.
Texas’ trade for 25-year-old righthander Jordan Romano means that for a third straight year the Rangers will bring a Rule 5 pick to big league camp. This time, Texas arranged a trade with the White Sox to acquire the rights to Romano, a Blue Jays prospect who spent 2018 primarily at Double-A New Hampshire.
A starter almost his entire pro career, Romano will be given an opportunity to win a spot in the Rangers’ bullpen, and it appears to be an open competition against a few pitchers who have minor league options.
The Rangers might give Romano, whom Toronto drafted in the 10th round in 2014 out of Oral Roberts, a chance to start eventually, but they like the way he profiles as a reliever.
“He certainly is capable of being stretched out and giving multiple innings,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “That’s the profile of the type of guy who’s been able to transition to the bullpen and been able to stick.”
The Rangers saw Romano log one relief inning in the Eastern League all-star game in 2018 and liked the way his fastball played in that role to the mid-90s. He has multiple offspeed pitches, Daniels said, but his slider is the best one.
Romano logged 25 starts in the EL and went 11-8, 4.13 with 125 strikeouts, 41 walks and 15 home runs allowed in 137.1 innings.
Romano will compete with lefthanders C.D. Pelham and Jeffrey Springs and righties Nick Gardewine and Connor Sadzeck for a spot on the Opening Day roster. Sadzeck is the only one in that group who is out of options.
The Rangers are still searching for veteran bullpen help, but the organization’s history with the Rule 5 draft suggests Romano will get a chance to stick on the roster.
— Catcher Jose Trevino, a college teammate of Romano’s, started taking swings in early December after a June operation on his non-throwing shoulder, and he expects to be full strength when spring training opens on Feb. 12. Trevino is on the 40-man roster but behind Jeff Mathis and Isiah Kiner-Falefa on the depth chart.
— The Rangers also made a selection in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft, taking Orioles righthander Jeffeson Medina. The reliever had recently signed a minor league deal with Baltimore and is coming off a season in which he registered a 3.73 ERA and 66 strikeouts in 72 innings at high Class A.