The Detroit Tigers 40-man roster is down to 38 after they elected to release long-time reliever, Bruce Rondon, on Friday. The move was reported by Anthony Fenech of the Freep, and confirmed by the club. The team tendered contracts to everyone else left unsigned on their 40-man roster.
Rondon departs after 10 years in the Tigers’ organization. The former future closer never made any impact on the major league roster, and after shopping for even a marginal return over the past month with no takers, the Tigers will move on instead.
The high point in Rondon’s five years in the major leagues came before he’d even thrown a pitch for the Tigers. Former general manager, Dave Dombrowski, boldly spoke of the hard-throwing right-hander as the club’s future closer prior to the 2013 season. He never came close to living up to the hype.
Rondon pitched reasonably well for the Tigers in 2013, though he was felled by injury late in the season and missed the playoff roster. It was all downhill from there. UCL surgery cost him all of the 2014 season. He returned in 2015 with a diminished fastball and an attitude that didn’t cut it with manager Brad Ausmus and his coaching staff. He was sent home for poor work ethic late in the 2015 season. And, apart from a handful of good appearances in 2016, that proved the beginning of the end for him in the Tigers’ organization.
Rondon never recovered the triple-digit fastball that led to the lofty early appraisals of his potential. His command never recovered either. On the other hand, his slider has improved over the years, and he’ll be a project for another coaching staff. Without the 100 mile per hour heat, however, his fastball has proved a dud in the major leagues. At this point he’s just another failed arm for teams to experiment with.
The Tigers were understandably patient with Rondon over the past two seasons. There is still the glimmer of enough talent to become a quality major league reliever. However the inability to keep himself in shape, and the poor conduct at times, auger badly for his future. Heading into Rondon’s age 27 season, after a miserable 2017 campaign, the Tigers are rightly done waiting on him. The two roster spots leave an opportunity for the Tigers to look at other non-tendered players or use two spots on Rule 5 draft acquisitions in mid-December.