As the Minnesota Twins re-shape their starting rotation heading toward 2013, there will certainly be a lot of potentially available names bounced around in the rumor mill during the offseason. Most of the names that another team would be willing to part with will definitely be coming off a poor or underachieving season, and the key for the Twins will be identifying one or two of those pitchers and targeting them as a low-risk and high upside option based on a track record that spans more than one bad season.
With that I present left-hander Ricky Romero, who has pitched for the Toronto Blue Jays since coming to the big leagues in 2009 and is currently 8-10 with a 5.47 ERA in 25 starts (149.2 innings) this season along with 104 strikeouts and a league-high 79 walks. His peripherals, including a 6.3 K/9 rate and 4.8 BB/9, are worse than his career numbers (7.0 K/9, 3.8 BB/9) and have helped lead to his allowing a league-high 91 earned runs that includes six outings allowing at least five earned runs. But Romero has gone at least six innings in 20 of his 25 starts, so that alone could bring some interest from the Twins with how they have struggled to find durable, reliable starters for much of this season.
Romero pitched over 200 innings and made exactly 32 starts in both 2010 and 2011 along with seven combined complete games in that span, which are all things on their own the Minnesota pitching staff has lacked over the last couple years. His best season came in 2011, as he went 15-11 with a 2.92 ERA in 225 innings pitched and earned an All-Star nod, and for his career he has a 50-39 record with a 3.97 ERA over 118 career starts (762.2 innings).
Romero is under contract through 2015 at reasonable upcoming salaries of $7.5 million in all three of the full seasons left on the deal, and there is a $13.1 million team option ($600,000 buyout) for 2016 in the contract as well. Having him locked up long-term may make the Blue Jays hesitant to trade him, given the cost certainty and their own issues with injuries in their starting rotation this season. Romero will turn 28 years old in November, so it can be assumed he has plenty of good years left in his career if he can stay relatively healthy.
Romero does not fit the profile of a staff ace necessarily, but the Twins should have virtually anyone that could come at a reasonable price this offseason on their radar. Romero seems to fit that bill right now, and coming off what is shaping up to be a subpar season the Blue Jays may be willing to simply take a couple warm bodies for him in a trade.