Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

The Seth Romero Saga comes to an end


Romero finally wears out his welcome with this team. Photo via

Lost in the busy week of transactions last week was my inevitable reaction post to the Romero release. Here it is.

Well, it finally happened. Former 1st round pick Seth Romero finally ran out of rope with the Nationals organization. The team summarily released him yesterday (well, ok put him on unconditional release waivers on the off chance some other idiot GM wants to trade for him) after he got his second DWI of the calendar year.

I thought this would be an excellent time to recap his baseball career.

  • Suspended from his Uof Houston team before his sophomore season due to “conduct detrimental to the team.” Also noted that he was in bad shape. But was then Reinstated (the talents always are, see Howe, Steve).
  • Suspended a second time mid-way through his Junior season for failing a drug test and missing curfew. Reinstated again because, well, Houston’s coach is paid to win games.
  • Summarily kicked off the team after his 2nd reinstatement after getting into a fight with a teammate. This was the last straw for college.

Despite these multiple issues with his college team, the Nats not only took him in the 1st round of 2017 … but gave him an over slot bonus. This, to this day, remains one of the most inexplicable decisions of Mike Rizzo‘s drafting career. Yes he got burned on the Mason Denaburg pick, yes he looks like he blew the Rutledge pick too … but giving an over-slot bonus to a guy who literally had no college team to return to and had zero leverage other than to go play Indy ball and return to the draft a year onwards.

So, now he’s a pro and you’d think he’d grow up right?

  • He throws just 22 professional innings in 2017, including six short-A starts with a (short sample size ugly ERA of 5.40).
  • He’s sent home from 2018 spring training for “multiple team rule violations,” and misses fully two months of the 2018 minor league season.
  • He finally debuts in 2018 in Low-A (a 1st rounder of his stature should have been in at least High-A in his first full pro season), throws 6 starts of 3.91 ERA.
  • He hits the D/L in early July, misses another 6 weeks.
  • Comes back mid-August, throws 2 innings, is removed from the game … and then three weeks later we find out he needs Tommy John surgery.
  • He misses the entire 2019 season recovering from Surgery.
  • Somehow the team decides to put him onto the 2020 60-man Covid roster, and he gets called up on 8/13/20. He throws exactly 2 2/3rds innings and gets shelled in the majors (not really a surprise; he had not pitched above A-ball).
  • Eleven days after his callup, we find out he has broken his Right hand. The official team word was that he “slipped on a stairway.” Cynics among us (including me) think its more likely he punched a wall.
  • In 2021, after not being assigned anywhere after spring training, with an injury that was never really made clear. He bounced around the minors, making 11 starts of varying success.

Ahead of the 2022 season, we learned that he was arrested in early January for DWI.

  • In 2022, the team just summarily put him on the 60-day DL with a “calf strain.” He eventually made a few AA 2-inning starts but seemingly had no pathway forward. He was activated in late August, just in time for the minor league season to be complete. He did not get a 9/1 callup (typically a defacto move for any health 40-man roster player, especially on a dead-last team).

And now this week we learned that he got his second DWI of the year, with the added bonus of possessing a “controlled substance.” Finally, finally, after all of this nonsense the team came to its senses and sent him packing.

Career Minor league stats: 31 starts across 4 seasons. 4.33 ERA, 149/44 K/BB in 97.2 innings. 1.39 whip

Career Major league stats: 2.2 innings, 13.50 era, 3.00 whip, 5/3 K/BB.

It is really amazing, honestly, how many chances this guy got. It’s also amazing just how bad he made this front office look for putting up with this for so long.

Written by Todd Boss

November 28th, 2022 at 8:14 pm

Posted in Majors Pitching

9 Responses to 'The Seth Romero Saga comes to an end'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to 'The Seth Romero Saga comes to an end'.

  1. This was one of Rizzo’s “we’re smarter than you” picks. There have been many, dating back at least to Matt Purke in 2011. As I have said, Rizzo is a brilliant trader, and he built a championship teams with trades and free agents. But draft futility catches up with you, as you have to have cheap, controlled talent coming up to offset the free agency costs. And it has caught up with the Nats in a big way.

    As long-time readers know, I was jumping up and down about the Romero pick even before Rizzo made it, as it was long rumored. There were more red flags than at an Alabama-Georgia game. It ended up being more than red flags, though. This guy just wasn’t that good. He was said to “touch” 97 when he was drafted, but when they brought him up, he was touching 91. He got clobbered by the Mets in his first outing, and Freddie Freeman just barely missed a homer against him in his second that would have blown that game open. By last season, there were reports on Nats Prospects from people at the games at Harrisburg that Romero was only registering around 88 on the stadium gun, maybe “touching” 90.

    Who would I have taken instead? Well, I suspect that Rizzo would have taken the much-hyped Nate Pearson, who also still hasn’t done much. I had two guys I was focused on. I preferred a hitter, and Brent Rooker had posted big numbers at Mississippi State. He went 10 picks after Romero. He has already bounced around some, hit 28 homers at AAA last year, and may have a good MLB chance now with the A’s. But he’s no superstar. Neither is the pitcher I favored, Alex Lange out of LSU. He went five picks after Romero. He’s a solid major-leaguer, though, appearing in 71 games with the Tigers last season with a 3.41 ERA and an impressive 11.7 K/9.

    All in all, it wasn’t a very good first round, although some of the high schoolers are starting to break through, including (hopefully) the #3 overall pick, MacKenzie Gore. It is worth noting that 2022 was five years after that draft, though, and hardly any of those high schoolers have flashed at the MLB level. It takes a long time with most, and now the Nats have spent their last two top picks on high schoolers, who probably will be years away.


    29 Nov 22 at 6:59 am

  2. KW

    29 Nov 22 at 7:02 am

  3. Indeed, the 2017 draft was weak. And its first round has not really panned out well.

    That’s my “mock draft collection” from 2017. It is interesting to see who the Mock drafts had the nats tied to. Early on it was Alex Lange (who went a few picks after us and is now an 8th inning guy in Detroit’s bullpen). Clark Schmidt was tied to the Nats ;he went to the Yankees at #16. Callis started talking about Romero to the Nats in mid June. Some others had them on Houck, who went the pick before us and you’d have to believe would have been our pick had Boston not grabbed him. Some mocks had them tied to Tristan Beck … who got hurt and didn’t go until the 29th round (and then the 4th round in 2018). othermocks mentioned Brady McConnell, a prep SS who went to school and was a 2nd rounder in 2019. Jo Adell mentioned (he went 10th overall), Hiura mentioned (he went 9th), Hans Crouse (went in 2nd round), Wil Crowe (who we eventually got in 2nd round).

    then the Seedling to the Stars guys mentioned a dozen different names.

    In the end … they probably got unlucky not getting Houck.

    Todd Boss

    29 Nov 22 at 9:29 am

  4. Hiura was my real draft crush, as there was some speculation that he might drop due to injuries and position questions. He rocketed to the majors and was terrific for the Brewers in the last half of 2019, helping them reach the playoffs, but lack of plate discipline has really killed him since then.

    I doubt that the Nats would have taken Houck. Romero was a Boras client, and the Nats were convinced that they were getting a “top 10 talent,” just as they had been with Fedde and would be the next year with Denaburg. And truth be told, Romero’s college numbers were elite. But he was never going to be worth the hassle, and the Nats doubled down on the problem by paying him over slot even though he had no bargaining power. Sigh.

    The only saving grace I saw for that draft was that the Nats got Crowe in the second round. Some mocks had connected him to the Nats in the first round, no doubt because he was also a Boras client, which I’m sure also contributed to him dropping. The Nats then very wisely traded him before his deficiencies became widely known.

    (Just made me look up Eddy Yean, the other guy in the Josh Bell trade. He posted a 6.75 ERA in A ball this year, 1.71 WHIP. So much for laments that he would turn into something.)


    29 Nov 22 at 1:31 pm

  5. Now let’s talk about the 2016 top pick. The Nats trust Kieboom so much . . . that they just signed a guy who hit .217 last season to play 3B. And yes, Candelario was on the Cubs in 2016. It should be noted that he was good in 2021 and really good in 2020 (140 wRC+). It is probably worth $5M just to see if there’s anything left in the tank . . . as long as they’re willing to kick him to the curb if he doesn’t, like they did Franco.

    I guess this shoots down a fair amount of Jake Alu’s chance to make the big club, unless Kieboom isn’t fully healthy. Probably also decreases the chances of the Nats taking Chaparro in Rule 5, unless they see him as more of a 1B/DH anyway.


    30 Nov 22 at 8:21 am

  6. This was such an obviously bad decision by the Nats from the get-go. I guess I’m just glad we finally cut the cord. Don’t let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya, Seth.

    In other news, two VERY different takes on the Nats minor league organization today.

    Baseball Prospectus’ Jarrett Seidler writes that Washington “traded 2.5 years of Juan Soto, 1.5 years of Trea Turner, 0.5 years of Max Scherzer, and made the 5th and 11th picks, and I’m not sure they have more than one guy between the farm and the young MLBers that projects to be an above-average regular […] they have lots of guys where if some unlikely stuff goes right they will be stars but other than Soto their recent PD track record is atrocious so what’s your confidence this is the org which gets Green to make contact/Abrams to improve swing decisions/Cavalli to optimize his FB.”

    Baseball America’s Savannah McCann enthuses: “After trading away all-star slugger Juan Soto at the trade deadline for a package that included three Top 100 Prospects, the Nationals have one of the most exciting systems in baseball,” adding that the Nats farm is “rapidly improving.”

    Choose your own adventure…


    30 Nov 22 at 12:35 pm

  7. Well, there’s no disputing “atrocious” player development, not to mention drafting. I’m also really concerned that Jim Hickey isn’t doing much good for the young pitchers already in the majors.

    I’ve just been going through the exercise of making lists of the top bats and top arms in the organization for Luke’s annual crowd-sourced polls at Nationals Prospects. (We miss you there, Sao.) I’d sort of split the baby between the two hot takes that Sao shared. Certainly the level of talent has been upgraded over the last two seasons, but only in certain areas. Nine of the 16 who received votes in the bats poll are outfielders. Of the non-OFs, Brady House is the only one who would qualify as a prospect of any note. I only see two upper-tier starting pitchers — Cavalli and Susana, who is a long way from the majors. Believe in Bennett if you wish, and/or that Henry will fully recover, but that’s still a very short list.

    On initial glance, the Padre trade still looks like a bonanza. Yes, they’re all still prospects, even Gore and Abrams. But that was the type of trade that the organization had to make to infuse more talent. The Dodger trade already looks more iffy. I still think that Ruiz can develop into one of the better-hitting catchers. His contact skills are elite. Gray remains a question mark. Everyone else in that trade already looks like junk.


    30 Nov 22 at 1:56 pm

  8. For KW: the Dodger trade looks more iffy than the Padre trade in large measure because the Nats were moving less value to the Dodgers (largely because of the two full seasons/three postseasons of Soto’s services). In that trade Carrillo is the only one whose value has taken a real step back, and that’s largely because of a shoulder injury. Donovan Casey was never expected to add much value. In the FG article writing up the 75 (!) prospects moved at the 2021 deadline, Casey ranked #74.

    #75, Richard Guasch, was also a Nats pick up (from the Gomes/Harrison trade to Oakland). The Nats picked up 11 of the 75 prospects on that list!

    John C.

    1 Dec 22 at 11:55 am

  9. John — Oh, I agree, and have posted comments elsewhere saying similar things. The Dodger trade was all about Ruiz and Gray. But yes, there was some expectation about Carrillo, although most thought even at the time of the trade that he would end up in relief. Casey sort of created his own expectations with a strong showing after the trade. I guess my point is more that I don’t think we expected all of “the rest” in that trade to collectively, immediately, cease being good as of 2022. Obviously the Dodgers knew their “sell by” date better than the Nats did.


    1 Dec 22 at 2:52 pm

Leave a Reply