The Washington Nationals announced this morning that they had signed another left-handed reliever:
The #Nationals have agreed to terms with LHP J.C. Romero on a minor league contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training.— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) March 22, 2013
Romero, 36, who signed with the Nationals once before, in 2011, before being released several weeks later, pitched briefly for the St. Louis Cardinals and Baltimore Orioles in 2012. Over the course of his 14-year MLB career, the Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico-born lefty is (34-28) with a 4.16 ERA, 4.53 FIP, 5.10 BB/9 and 7.16 K/9. Romero pitched for Puerto Rico in the recently-completed World Baseball Classic, throwing 4.2 innings in relief and earning one save while allowing four hits, three walks and two earned runs and striking out five. According to reports from the Nationals' Spring home this morning, however, the left-hander has no chance of making the Opening Day roster.
Nats' GM Mike Rizzo told reporters, including CSN Washington's Mark Zuckerman, that though scouts were impressed with what they saw from the veteran reliever in the WBC, the idea of him making the Opening Day roster was "unrealistic":
"I don't feel that's realistic," Rizzo said. "It's been conveyed to him that we don't feel it's realistic. He'll go to the minor leagues and perform down there, and if he can help us down the road, we'll go grab him."
The Nats' GM told CSN Washington's Mr. Zuckerman that the signing was a "low-risk, high-reward" signing:
"'His velocity was up, and his stuff looked good and he had played with several of these guys and they liked him,' Rizzo said..."
The Nationals have been clear all winter and throughout the Spring that they don't necessarily feel like they have to have a late-inning left-hander in the bullpen, but they have signed the likes of Bill Bray, Will Ohman and Fernando Abad to give them some options should they turn to a left-hander instead of trusting that their right-handed relievers are capable of retiring whatever left-handed hitters they face.