SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles won’t head north with projected starter Miguel Gonzalez, placing the right-hander on release waivers today. He can become a free agent after 48 hours if he goes unclaimed.
An industry source confirmed the move, which comes as teams can cut players and not be on the hook for their full salaries for 2016. Players released by opening day receive 45 days of pay.
Gonzalez, 31, agreed to a $5.1 million salary to avoid an arbitration hearing. He’s had a disappointing spring, going 1-4 with a 9.78 ERA in six starts. Opponents are batting .412 against him.
The camp struggles came on the heels of a 2015 season that saw Gonzalez twice go on the disabled list and have his ERA rise from 3.23 the previous summer to 4.91. His WHIP increased from 1.296 to 1.396.
Gonzalez held the Braves to one run over five innings last night in his longest outing of the spring, but he also scattered seven hits and hit a batter. Afterward, manager Buck Showalter offered tepid praise, saying, “He had good results. He had good results tonight.”
When the subject of Gonzalez’s command came up in the interview session, Showalter replied, “Not as good as I’ve seen him, but he had better feel for all his secondary pitches. That’s what allowed him to get some results, and some really good defense behind him.”
Though Gonzalez still has a minor league option, the Orioles chose to part ways with him instead of sending him to Triple-A Norfolk.
With Gonzalez gone and Kevin Gausman headed to the disabled list, the Orioles’ rotation could include Mike Wright and Tyler Wilson for at least part of the season’s first month. The club doesn’t need a fifth starter until April 10. Vance Worley also remains in camp.
The Orioles signed Gonzalez out of the Mexican League in March 2012. He went 39-33 with a 3.82 ERA in 101 games, including 95 starts. He posted ERAs of 3.25, 3.78 and 3.23 in his first three seasons, and he allowed two earned runs in two playoff starts covering 12 2/3 innings.
The camp roster currently stands at 38 players with Gonzalez released and catcher Audry Perez apparently reassigned to minor league camp. He no longer has a locker in the clubhouse.
The Orioles haven’t announced either move.
The Baltimore Sun first reported the news of Gonzalez’s release.