The Miguel Gonzalez era with the Orioles is over. According to The Baltimore Sun's Eduardo Encina, the O's have given Gonzalez his unconditional release. Next, Gonzalez will be placed on waivers, and if he goes unclaimed for 48 hours, he will become a free agent.
It's a move that's surprising in the sense that the O's under Buck Showalter have tended to stick with their guys, and Gonzalez was definitely one of their guys. It's less surprising in that Gonzalez had a bad year last year, posting a 4.91 ERA for 2015. He also has not had a good spring, and Showalter has periodically hinted through the spring that there is more competition for the starting rotation than people have realized.
More than just not having good results in spring training, Gonzalez didn't have very good stuff underneath those results. In last night's game against the Braves, the radar gun on MASN was barely, if at all, hitting above 90 miles per hour. Hitting 87-88 is a big difference from 91-92. Put it all together and the bad spring with a 9.78 ERA was probably not an accident.
MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli noted that the move means the O's will be able to "save a good chunk" of Gonzalez's salary; by placing him on release waivers at this point, his salary for this season will not be fully guaranteed. It's "only" $5.1 million, but if the Orioles are sure that he sucks, why would they want to be on the hook for that full amount if they have the choice not to be? Releasing today means they'll have to pay roughly a quarter of the salary.
Ghiroli adds that the O's are hardly the only ones to have soured on Gonzalez; teams were high on him before his dropoff last season, but from what they saw this spring, "scouts were not impressed."
This paves the way for either Mike Wright or Tyler Wilson to make the Orioles rotation to start the season. It's tough to handicap that competition. Wright has pitched more spring innings. I would rather see Wilson, but I don't expect the phone to ring with Dan Duquette asking for my opinion.
It'll be a bummer if this is the end for Gonzalez in an O's uniform. But, sentiment for past success aside, it's an even greater bummer to have O's starting pitchers posting an ERA near or above 5. This move should clear the path for somebody who might be better than Gonzalez.