Former Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher, Miguel Gonzalez, was given his unconditional release by the club on Thursday. The move surprised Orioles fans, especially given their club's loyalty to veteran players. However, the 31-year-old Mexican was not very good in 2015, allowing a 4.91 ERA in 144 2/3 innings.
With Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila still taking a look at veteran starters such as Kyle Lohse, it's possible he might show interest in Gonzalez as well. While his best days are very likely behind him, Gonzalez could potentially be a bit of veteran depth for a Tigers' pitching staff that has taken a few lumps this spring.
Unlike Lohse, Gonzalez would still have to pass through waivers in order to sign a new deal for the major league minimum. He is currently owed $5.1 million for the 2016 season, and any team claiming him would be responsible for that salary, which becomes guaranteed money on Opening Day. Considering his rough 2015 season, there's a solid chance Gonzalez ends up on the open market.
Gonzalez spent several years (from 2012 to 2014) defying his peripherals, something the Orioles starters excelled at during that period. It all came crashing down on him in 2015. While his velocity, and his rates of strikeouts, walks and home runs fell off only a little last year, his results collapsed entirely.
For most of his quality run with the Orioles, Gonzalez thrived mainly on the quality of defense behind him and solid walk rates. Despite only moderately high ground ball rates, he maintained BABIP numbers well below average. Even in 2015, his BABIP was only a routine .295. He gave up harder contact and a little higher home run rate, and all those elements combined to finally match his ERA and FIP.
While Gonzalez isn't going to excite anyone, he may yet fit the bill for the Tigers. Al Avila seems extremely conscious of building as much depth into his roster as possible, and with several spots on the 40-man roster still available, a few moves to shore up the pitching staff seem likely.
The Tigers overall defense could help Gonzalez to be serviceable, and pitching away from Camden Yards should cool his painful home run rates. While he never was a hard thrower, Gonzalez hasn't really lost anything of note from his velocity either. As a spot starter, or possibly as middle relief help, perhaps he could find an extra bit of juice on his fastball.
For the moment, Gonzalez still has to clear waivers, so there aren't likely to be any signals coming from the Tigers' organization. However, their recent interest in Lohse, the injuries to the pitching staff, and the available spots on the 40-man roster all point to a few more moves in the offing. If the Tigers' scouting and analytics departments think Gonzalez could be of use, Avila would seem likely to make an offer. He's clearly leaving no stone unturned in his bid to bolster the club's depth in the final days of the offseason.