The Tigers made three roster decisions on Monday, releasing infielder Casey McGehee and reliever Bobby Parnell and optioning reliever Bruce Rondon to Triple-A Toledo.
According to Jason Beck of MLB.com, a decision on both McGehee and Parnell was needed by Tuesday. The Tigers had three options: add the players to the MLB roster, release them, or give them a retention bonus. The retention bonus is set at $100,000 and is given to free agents who were on a 40-man roster at the end of last season and signed minor league contracts during the offseason if they are not on a MLB roster five days prior to Opening Day.
Parnell was signed to a minor league deal in February after spending the last eight seasons with the Mets. He pitched 24 innings in 2015 with a 6.38 ERA and 1.96 WHIP after missing essentially the whole 2014 season recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Manager Brad Ausmus told Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press that the Tigers were closely monitoring Parnell’s arm strength. Though he likely needed a strong performance this spring to make the team, reports had been mostly positive regarding his progress. Parnell appeared in 10 games with a 8.68 ERA and 2.46 WHIP.
The Tigers also signed McGehee to a minor league contract in February. McGeehe spent time with both the Giants and Marlins in 2015, hitting only .198 in 109 games between the two teams. He owns a career 93 wRC+ and has played both first base and third base. McGehee has had a decent spring, hitting .316 with a homer in 38 at bats. However, it is difficult to see how he could squeeze into the 25-man roster.
Meanwhile, the story on Rondon has not really changed. He has looked sharp at times during the spring, but he also continues to lack consistency and command. Aumus appeared cautiously optimistic when talking to Fenech about Rondon over the weekend, but clearly the Tigers wanted to see more from the young flamethrower.
It is definitely possible for Rondon to spend time in Detroit this season, especially given the uncertainty near the end of the bullpen, but the Tigers were not comfortable with him starting the season with team. Rondon had a rough 9.00 ERA and 1.70 WHIP in 10 innings pitched to go along with 13 strikeouts this spring.