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Detroit Tigers Free Agent Target: Tom Gorzelanny


Not all free agent pitchers are as good as Anibal Sanchez. But then, not all free agent pitchers are expensive so they don’t need to be as good as Anibal Sanchez.

Apr 19, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals relief pitcher Tom Gorzelanny (32) throws in the sixth inning against the Houston Astros at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-US PRESSWIRE

IF and that’s an if that we’d prefer to not deal with, but we could certainly all live with, the Tigers are not able to resign Anibal Sanchez – or simply would be forced to pay him far too much – there is a backup plan named Rick Porcello. We’re then left – and this would be the case as well if the Tigers resign Sanchez but trade Porcello – with the problem covered here at MCB in depth of the concerning lack of a 6th starter. If your backup plan – should any starter spend any time on the DL – is Casey Crosby you should be worried. Tom Gorzellany is something like (in my mind) Rick Porcello or Drew Smyly in that he seems to be able to do very well out of the ‘pen but to be hit-or-miss on the mound.

Gorzelanny has a career 4.61 ERA as a starter, 3.32 as a reliever. Due to an abundance of rotation options, the Nationals kept him in the ‘pen all of last year and he did well for them. But… since he was being paid as a starter, not as a middle reliever, he wound up non-tendered today. He’s also a lefty who does pretty well against lefties – and I’d say he’s all around better than Phil Coke for what that’s worth. The Tigers do have room for a lefty in the bullpen – unless you’re totally comfortable with Darin Downs and friends – and could honestly use an upgrade over Phil Coke… The Tigers also need a 6th starter. Tom Gorzellany OR Drew Smyly could both fill those roles very well, if one were given a rotation spot and the other made (in effect) an official swingman. The Nats non-tendered him rather than pay him slightly more than his 2012 salary of $3 million – but I have the feeling that he could actually get that much on the open market. It’s also very possible that he could get a deal that would guarantee him a rotation spot rather than making him fight it out in spring training for it. Personally, I’d be OK with giving him as much as a 2-year $6 million contract and making the 5th starter spot his to lose. I’d also have high expectations for Drew Smyly in the bullpen (and expect, since this is what tends to happen, that Smyly would still wind up making 15 starts).

Let me end by nipping another suggestion in the bud: the Tigers should not pursue fellow Nats non-tender John Lannan. He’s a lefty equivalent of Brad Penny (and not the young, talented Brad Penny). Gorzelanny can miss bats.