The decision to retain Gonzalez for $12 million for next year is not a surprise. Despite a shaky 11-11 season with an ERA of 4.57, Washington keeps a starter who can give you six innings—on a good night—from the back of the rotation. If he pitches 180 frames next year, a vesting option of $12 million triggers for 2018.
Gonzalez, 31, came to the Nats from the Oakland Athletics in December 2011 as part of a six-player deal. A.J. Cole, interestingly enough, was one of the players traded for Gonzalez.
Gonzalez won 21 in 2012, as the Nats captured their first National League East crown since moving from Montreal, and finished third in the Cy Young voting.
Since then, his ERA has climbed while the win total dropped. His 4.57 mark this past year is not only a career high, but the first time it climbed over four.
Even with all those caveats, bringing Gonzalez back is a smart move. As Cole, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez fight for the fifth spot next spring in the rotation, an experienced veteran like Gonzalez not only can eat innings, but provide insurance in the inevitable case of an injury. His price fits a pitcher of his ability.
The decision to buy out Petit for $500 thousand is a mild surprise. In turning down his $3 million option for next year, the Nats let go a pitcher who threw 62 innings in 36 games.
Signed as a free agent last winter from the San Francisco Giants, Petit went 3-5 this year with an ERA of 4.50. His WHIP of 1.323 and FIP of 4.81 are highs as a reliever. In those 62 frames, he allowed 67 hits and a whopping 12 home runs.
Now a middle reliever, his contract is as cheap as you can find for a veteran. Turning 32 this month, Petit posted an Adjusted ERA+ of 93 or seven percent below league average. For that performance, you can see why they decided to not pick his option. Whether he wants to sign a cheaper deal is unknown.