Expectations for Bruce Rondon peaked at "future closer" during his 10-year tenure in the Tigers' organization. A maddening lack of consistency, and issues with his effort, which led the Tigers to send him home for a stretch during the 2016 season, kept him from fulfilling his potential. He still throws hard, averaging 96.8 mph on his fastball last season, and he mixed that pitch with a mid-80s slider, along with the occasional changeup. The Tigers declined to tender Rondon a contract in December, making him a free agent. Just one year removed from a career-low 3.0 BB/9, he walked batters at an alarming 5.7 BB/9 clip last season, but he accompanied that glaring flaw with a career-high 12.6 K/9. As teams continue to adjust their roster construction and place a greater premium on quality relief arms, Rondon might be viewed as a low-cost, low-risk gamble capable of becoming a significant source of value with a change of scenery.
Rondon signed a minor-league contract with the White Sox on Thursday, Chris Cotillo of SB Nation reports. Rondon was non-tendered by the Tigers this winter after spending the past 10 years with the organization. The veteran reliever struggled in his 15.2 innings of relief last season, posting a 10.91 ERA (3.29 FIP) with a concerning 13.2 percent walk rate. He'll compete for a role in the rebuilding White Sox's bullpen this upcoming season.
The Tigers declined to tender Rondon a contract for 2018, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports. Once considered the Tigers' likely closer of the future, Rondon fell out of favor with the organization over the past two seasons. He was sent home in the summer of 2016 due to a lack of effort and he couldn't locate the plate with any consistency in 21 appearances with the big club in 2017 (5.7 BB/9). He still throws hard, though, and could land a major-league job in 2018.
Rondon was optioned to Triple-A Toledo after struggling and taking the loss Sunday against the Twins, Evan Woodbery of MLive.com reports. Rondon couldn't find the strike zone on Sunday, as he walked two batters on a total of nine pitches. Both runners came around to score, which put the Tigers down 6-4 and bumped Rondon's ERA up to 10.91. Manager Brad Ausmus said Rondon's first few pitches were "alarming" and "weren't real close," so he wasted no time pulling the 26-year-old. Rondon has some talent, but clearly he needs to refine his control and grow as a pitcher. He'll try to do that at Triple-A and could rejoin the MLB club when rosters expand in September.
Rondon was optioned to Triple-A Toledo following Sunday's loss to the Twins. Room on the roster is needed for Monday's starter, Michael Fulmer (elbow), and the struggling Rondon is the resulting roster casualty. He will head back to the minors for some more seasoning after allowing two runs without recording an out to earn the loss Sunday. While he has impressed with his overpowering stuff at times (12.1 K/9), he now owns an unsightly 10.91 ERA in 15.2 innings out of the Tigers bullpen.
Rondon (1-3) was tagged with the loss Sunday against the Twins. He didn't record an out and walked two batters on nine pitches. Both runners came around to score. Rondon simply couldn't find the strike zone in this one, and manager Brad Ausmus showed little patience in the right-hander. Rondon has displayed electric stuff at times, but he just hasn't been able to put it all together. With a 10.91 ERA, Rondon likely won't be getting too many high-leverage opportunities moving forward, and he's probably not worth owning in most standard leagues at this point.