Romero becomes free agent as Phils decline option

The Phillies have declined J.C. Romero's option and he will become a free agent. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)

In an expected move, the Phillies have declined their $4.5 million option on J.C. Romero's contract, making the veteran lefty a free agent.

Romero, who will be paid a $250,000 buyout, logged just 53 1/3 innings over the last two seasons after posting a 2.75 ERA in 59 innings in 2008.

"No clue," the 34-year-old lefty said on Saturday night when asked of his chances of returning. "I'm blank right now. Don't know what's going to happen."

Romero said he thinks he has many years remaining in baseball. 

"I just turned 34," he said. "I just got a brand new arm," referring to surgery to repair a flexor tendon that he underwent last offseason.

Romero appeared in 60 games in 2010, pitching well in some stretches and struggling with his command in others. He posted a 3.68 ERA, but walked a career-high 7.1 batters-per-nine-innings. He struck out 6.9 batters-per-nine, a full batter lower than he retired in 2008, when he posted a 2.75 ERA, 7.9 K/9 and 5.8 BB/9 in 59 innings over 81 appearances. 

The Phillies have only three relievers under contract for 2011: Closer Brad Lidge, set-up man Ryan Madson, and veteran righthander Danys Baez, who struggled during the 2010 season and was left off the roster for both rounds of the postseason.

The Phillies now have six players who will become free agents, assuming they do not agree to contracts with the Phillies in the five days between the end of the World Series and the start of the signing period. 

The others are Jayson Werth, Chad Durbin, Jamie Moyer, Mike Sweeney and Jose Contreras.