MIAMI (AP) — Veteran reliever Sergio Romo is right back in a pennant race.
The AL Central-leading Minnesota Twins acquired the 36-year-old righty from Miami on Saturday night, hoping to boost their beleaguered bullpen for the stretch.
“It’s kind of hard to explain because I’m super excited,” Romo said after the Marlins’ 9-2 loss to Arizona. “They’re in a really, really good position to make a playoff push. That’s exciting. It’s super fun baseball to play.”
“But kind of mixed feelings based on the fact I get to leave a bunch of dudes I’ve grown to love. Cool dudes who allowed me to be myself,” he said.
Romo planned to take an early-morning flight from South Florida to Chicago, where the Twins were set to play the series finale Sunday against the White Sox. Minnesota then begins a series at Miami.
The Twins got Romo, minor league pitcher Chris Vallimont and a player to be named for minor league first baseman Lewin Diaz.
Romo was 2-0 with 17 saves and a 3.58 ERA in 38 games this season. The righty had an 0.61 ERA in his last 15 appearances for the Marlins.
Romo comes with plenty of postseason experience. He has an 0.00 ERA in six World Series games, helping San Francisco win three championships.
Overall, he’s pitched in 27 postseason games — all for the Giants — with a 3.09 ERA.
Minnesota’s once-big division lead has been dwindling, and is down to just one game over Cleveland. The Twins recently made several roster moves with their bullpen, trying to improve the mix.
“He’s ultra-competitive, he wants the ball and he’s scared of nothing,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “I think everyone knows him as a pitcher. He’s been around a very long time. He’s had a very successful career, he’s pitched in some big, big spots and once you get to know him you can see how he’s had success in those spots.”
Baldelli was familiar with Romo from their time together in the Tampa Bay organization.
“He’s a guy that’s done different things over the course of his career. He has some history at the end of games in big moments. He’s not worried about pitching in those moments. He actually desires to pitch in those moments,” he said.
“He’s a guy that also gives you a little bit of a different look. I don’t what you would call his arm angle, but he’s pretty tough on right-handed batters, always has been, and that slider that he throws is a little bit different, maybe, then any slider in the game. We’re looking forward to having him here.”
Romo will pair with lefty Taylor Rogers, who has emerged as the Twins’ closer, in the back of the bullpen.
The trade was announced Saturday night. The deadline for making deals to have players eligible for the postseason is Wednesday.
The Twins will be Romo’s fifth major league team. He played his first nine seasons with the Giants before stops with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Tampa Bay and Miami.
“He’s got a lot of experience in the big leagues and he’s going to help us a lot. His experience is going to help us,” Twins pitcher Martin Perez said.
Romo signed with Miami in the offseason and leaves a last-place team for a club in first place.
“We felt like we maximized an expiring asset and were able to add, in our opinion, one of the most productive, impactful power hitters in all of minor league baseball,” Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said.
The 22-year-old Diaz was hitting a combined .297 with 19 home runs and 61 RBIs in Class A and Double-A.
The 22-year-old Vallimont was a combined 6-7 with a 3.16 ERA for two Class A teams this season.
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