Romero could return to Philly, but it would a long shot.
File this under the "no, really?" category.
Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweeted Tuesday that the Ruben Amaro, Jr. and the Philadelphia Phillies have declined to pick up left-handed reliever J.C. Romero's outrageous $4.5 million option for 2011.
"As expected, the Phillies declined reliever J.C. Romero's $4.5 million option for 2011," Gelb writes on Philly.com "The left-hander will receive a $250,000 buyout and become a free agent."
To say Romero struggled with his command this season would be a bit of an understatement, but he did put up decent numbers with a 1-0 record, three saves, and a 3.68 ERA in 60 appearances.
Letting Romero walk leaves Antonio Bastardo as the only viable option as a lefty out of the pen at this point, but Amaro says solidifying the bullpen will be a top priority in the offseason.
Amaro also says Romero could be a part of that solidifying process.
"I think we can still have discussions with (Romero)," Amaro said. "Without question."
But if those discussions are ever going to get serious, it would mean Romero got almost nothing from the other 29 major league teams and would be willing to come back for about a third of what he would have made had the Phils picked up his option.
In fact, even that might not seal the deal. The Phillies are going to be very, very tight on money this year and will need to squeeze every penny they can. Other than Romero, the Phillies also have decisions to make on right-handed relievers Jose Contreras and Chad Durbin.
Jayson Werth is obviously another major piece that must be considered. If the Phillies decide to keep him around, it could mean skimping out a bit on the combined salary of the bullpen.
I would give Romero returning about a 10 percent chance, and that might even be a bit optimistic. It mainly stems from the lack of interest I'm assuming Romero will get on the free agent market. Guys like that usually wind up crawling back to their former team ready and willing to take a significant pay cut.
And like Tim Dierkes of MLBTradeRumors.com points out, the market of left-handed relievers includes guys like Scott Downs, Arthur Rhodes, and Pedro Feliciano -- a company in which Romero likely doesn't fit.
Even though the 2010 season ended in disappointment, the offseason is always an exciting part of the year -- especially with the Amaro running the show. Something tells me this offseason won't be any different.