According to multiple sources, the Doosan Bears of the Korean League will buy out the contract of Indianapolis third baseman Deibinson Romero from the Pittsburgh Pirates. The deal is not complete yet, with the Bears saying they need to “go through some administrative formalities with the Pirates” before it can be completed.
Romero is hitting .302/.403/.548 in 38 games this year and has been one of the better hitters in the International League. Last year, the Pirates traded Chris Dickerson to the Cleveland Indians when he got off to a similar start because they didn’t have a place for him in the big leagues. A move like that actually helps teams when they look for minor league free agents in the off-season, because they will see a team is willing to deal them for little or nothing in return, if a spot opens up for that player elsewhere. Some systems are known for keeping a player as depth for an entire season and not using them.
It’s also possible that Romero had an out clause in his contract, which often times call for the player to be in the Majors by a specific date, possibly June 1st in this case based on the timing. Romero has no MLB experience and he is already 28 years old, so there is limited upside with him despite the strong stats. With a crowded infield in Pittsburgh already, there wasn’t a huge need for him at this time.
UPDATE: Thoughts from Tim Williams…
Romero looked like good depth, but it might have been difficult for him to crack the majors and have any kind of significant role. Josh Harrison is playing better now, and if Harrison goes down, the Pirates have Jung-ho Kang capable of taking over. That would put Jordy Mercer back at shortstop, and I’m certain the Pirates would choose Mercer starting over Romero.
As John noted above, teams will give players an opportunity to go elsewhere if they don’t have a shot at making the majors. The fact that Romero’s elsewhere was Korea, rather than another MLB team like Dickerson last year, indicates that he wasn’t in high demand around the league.