Photo credit:© Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
The long-term outlook of All-Star closer Jordan Romano
1 month ago
It is no secret that the Toronto Blue Jays window of postseason opportunity is currently at its highest. The Jays possess one of the strongest pitching corps in the American League, even with Alek Manoah’s struggles last year, and the bats have shown they can play at times, even with the regression across multiple names in the lineup that will hopefully find a way to rebound in 2024.
With this in mind, one of the main reasons the Blue Jays playoff window is at an all-time high is because of the lack of long-term extensions for the core players, namely Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette. Toronto has been one team that has not jumped on the extension train for young players, unlike the Seattle Mariners or San Diego Padres, and because of that, both Guerrero Jr. and Bichette are slated for free agency following the 2025 season.
Both are due for lucrative contracts on the open market and as such, it makes sense why the Jays and the two players have yet to agree to any extension terms, at least at this time. For what it’s worth, the pending free agent status of both players could play a major role in how the Jays unfold into the latter half of the decade, especially if they struggle to make the playoffs. It was such a hot topic that upon signing his extension, José Berríos had a player option added to his contract after the 2026 season so he could opt out if the direction of the Jays organization does a 180.
Jordan Romano is one name to keep in mind for the Blue Jays contract extension talks
While Guerrero Jr. and Bichette have dominated the extension narrative, the Blue Jays have one more player who is eligible for free agency following the 2025 campaign and should be included in the extension conversation as well.
Jordan Romano is currently in his second year of arbitration with the Jays organization and is projected to earn $6 million this winter. Like his two teammates, the right-hander will be eligible for free agency following the 2025 season and is currently on track to earn a considerable deal if he keeps up his current trajectory.
Since making his debut in 2019, Romano has not only emerged as one of the Jays’ top relief arms but also one of the best Canadian-born relievers currently pitching in the big leagues. While he didn’t take over the club’s closing duties until the 2021 season, Romano has always been one of the team’s electric arms out of the bullpen and continues to be a fan favourite for not only his work on the field but his Canadian roots as well.
Through 216 innings, Romano owns a 2.67 ERA with 272 strikeouts (11.3 K/9) and a 6.6 H/9 while working mostly in high-pressure late-game situations. His 97 saves currently rank fifth in Blue Jays franchise history, three behind Billy Koch and seven behind Roberto Osuna, and there is a good chance he could finish the year in second if he can collect 25 saves and surpass Duane Ward. He has a long way to go to catch Tom Henke at 217 for the top spot on the list.
If Romano was to finish with 29 or more saves on the year, he would pass John Hiller for third place on the Canadian-born saves leaderboards. Steamer projects the right-hander to earn 32 saves this year across 66 innings while striking out 76 batters to the tune of a 3.70 ERA, a bit of a step back from the previous two campaigns.
Since 2021, Romano sits fourth in terms of saves across Major League Baseball (95) and ranks 14th across all relievers in fWAR (4.0) while boasting a 3.13 FIP. Last season, he ranked in the 80th percentile or greater in over six different pitching categories and finished in the 86th percentile in pitching run value while also posting a 35.9 whiff percentage, ranking in the 96th percentile.
Working with a two-pitch setup of a slider and fastball, the offspeed pitch averages about 38.8 inches of drop while his fastball can routinely hit the upper 90s, forming a solid one-two punch in the ninth inning. Both offerings held opponents to a batting average below .225 while generating a whiff percentage above the 30% mark.
Looking ahead, Romano has established himself as one of the game’s top closers and while Bichette and Guerrero Jr. will continue to dominate the extension headlines, the Markham, Ont. product should also not be ignored.
While relievers come and go throughout the years, there is the added Canadian connection that makes Romano pitching for the Blue Jays a bit extra special, although the volatility of success in the closer’s role is usually only seen by the game’s elite and usually doesn’t warrant the contract Edwin Díaz secured last winter or whatever Josh Hader will likely ink this offseason. There is a chance Romano could price himself out of the Jays’ desired level of financial commitment, especially if the club is dead set on keeping Guerrero Jr. and Bichette around long-term, although how he does over the next two seasons will play a huge role.
It will be interesting to see how the Blue Jays front office will navigate through the process of which players will be extended (or want to stay with the Jays) and how the next two years could determine the outlook for the Blue Jays throughout the rest of the decade. While Romano will likely command a contract that will outweigh the then record-setting five-year $47 million the Jays gave to B.J. Ryan back in 2005 (a major bust looking back), one hopes the Jays and the relief pitcher can find common ground to keep him on the squad for the long run while still keeping either Bichette or Guerrero Jr around as well.
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