Earlier in the off-season, the Phillies found their replacement for J.C. Romero, who had spent four seasons as the team's primary lefthander out of the bullpen. But once their deal with Dennys Reyes fell through, they decided their next best option was, well, Romero.
Two baseball sources confirmed Monday the Phillies have agreed to terms with Romero on a one-year contract. The deal, which has yet to be finalized, is pending a physical.
Romero is in Puerto Rico with his family for the holidays and the physical may not take place until after Jan. 1.
Terms of the deal were not immediately available. Romero, who turns 35 in June, will likely take a significant pay cut to remain with the team. He made $4 million in 2010 and shortly after the season ended, the Phillies declined a $4.5 million option for 2011, instead paying him a $250,000 buyout.
Upon declining that option, it became unlikely Romero would return because of the many lefthanders available on the free-agent market. The Phillies settled upon Reyes during the winter meetings earlier this month and agreed in principle to a one-year, $1.1 million deal. But following Reyes' physical in Philadelphia, the two sides could not finalize the contract.
With the market for lefthanders dwindling, the Phillies chose the familiar one. Romero lacked control in 2010, walking 29 batters while striking out 28. His 7.12 walks per nine innings was the highest rate of his career.
But against lefthanded batters, Romero remained effective. They hit .217 off him with a .600 OPS and his strikeout-to-walk ratio was far better against lefthanded hitters than it was vs. righties.
During the championship season of 2008, Romero was dominant. A performance-enhancing drug suspension and injury limited his 2009 season and he began the 2010 season on the disabled list still recovering from off-season elbow surgery.
It's likely Romero's salary will be something near what Reyes was scheduled to earn. Last week, assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said the team still had Reyes' money to allocate to a lefthanded reliever even after signing Cliff Lee, which extended the 2011 payroll to $160 million.
The Phillies could have saved that money and filled the lefthanded reliever job internally with either Antonio Bastardo, Dan Meyer, Mike Zagurski or Sergio Escalona, but opted for experience.
Improving the bullpen was general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.'s top priority heading into the off-season. The Phillies now have five relievers under contract for 2011 - Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson, Jose Contreras, Danys Baez and Romero.
One member of the bullpen from previous years, righthander Chad Durbin, remains unsigned and the Phillies could still use a middle reliever who can pitch multiple innings. But given there will be even less emphasis (four ace starting pitchers will do that) on a bullpen that pitched a league-low 421 innings in 2010, the Phillies could decide to fill Durbin's role internally with a younger pitcher.