If the Detroit Tigers weren't already thinking that they should make an inside hire for next year's closer job, Mike Gonzalez and the Baltimore Orioles gave them another reason to strongly consider it.
Gonzalez agreed to a two-year, $12 million deal with the O's on Wednesday. The $6 million annual salary exceeds the $5 million Brandon Lyon will receive as part of his $15 million contract with the Astros. Incentives could push the contract's value up to $16 million, according to Yahoo! Sports' Tim Brown.
After fighting injuries the past two seasons, Gonzalez pitched in 80 games for the Atlanta Braves this year. He struck out 90 batters and walked 33 in 74.1 innings, also notching 10 saves and a 2.42 ERA.
Meanwhille, Fernando Rodney is still out there, waiting for a team to meet his price. Three years, $30 million? Even the Orioles, who reportedly had Rodney at the top of their closer shopping list, thought that was too much.
And what's the market for closers now? The number of teams in need of one is getting smaller. The Tigers are obviously on that list, though may be priced into looking at an in-house option. The Diamondbacks say they want to sign one. The Cubs, perhaps, if they don't think Carlos Marmol can cut it. The Nationals? The Pirates (who brilliantly non-tendered Matt Capps)?
Rodney and Jose Valverde are looking to cash in. And Capps might be the most attractive choice for teams hoping to avoid the big-money, multi-year deals those top free agent closers are seeking. Will prices begin to drop as openings continue to shrink? Or will teams eventually get a bit desperate and meet those demands?
Meanwhile, does Joel Zumaya or Ryan Perry look more attractive as the Tigers' closer next year, in light of the contracts free agent closers have been signing this winter?