Detroit — The Tigers tendered contracts to five of their six arbitration-eligible players on Friday.
The lone non-tendered player is pitcher Bruce Rondon, who becomes a free agent immediately.
Although the Tigers could still conceivably sign Rondon to a minor-league deal, this is likely the end of his enigmatic and frustrating run with the Tigers.
The Venezuelan-born right-hander, whose fastball topped 100 mph, rapidly ascended through the Tigers system and was dubbed by former president and general manager Dave Dombrowski as the club’s closer of the future in 2013.
That never happened. In fact, in parts of four seasons in Detroit, Rondon produced more home run balls (11) than saves (seven), and a career ERA of 5.00.
The problems started with an elbow injury and subsequent Tommy John surgery which cost him the 2014 season. He was set to make the roster out of spring training in 2015, but was injured at the end of camp and endured another troubled year.
It was at the end of the 2015 season that manager Brad Ausmus and general manager Al Avila agreed to send Rondon home in September, citing poor effort.
The Tigers, though, gave Rondon a chance to redeem himself and he bounced back with his best season in the big leagues in 2016 (5-2, 2.97 ERA, 0.93 WHIP). But it did not signify a corner-turning moment.
Rondon’s performance dropped dramatically last season. On the worst bullpen in baseball, he still couldn’t maintain a regular role. He allowed 19 runs in 15 innings and his WHIP was just 1.97.
That he was still on the 40-man roster as of Friday was more surprising than the fact he wasn’t tendered.
Here are the five players who were tendered contracts on Friday:
■Third baseman-outfielder Nick Castellanos. This is his second of three arbitration years. He made $3 million last season and according to estimates by MLBTradeRumors.com, he could be awarded as much as $7.6 million in arbitration.
■Right-handed pitcher Shane Greene. In his first year of arbitration, Greene, who finished the year as the Tigers’ closer, made $550,600 last year. He could earn up to $1.7 million in arbitration.
■Shortstop Jose Iglesias. In his final year of arbitration, Iglesias could be awarded as much as $5.6 million. He made $4.1 million last season.
■Catcher James McCann. Also his first year of arbitration, he stands to get a sizeable raise from his $552,100 salary last year. Estimates are he could be awarded up to $2.3 million.
■Right-handed pitcher Alex Wilson. He’s in his second year of arbitration and made $1.175 million last year. He could be awarded up to $2.1 million.
The Tigers historically have signed players to short-term deals before these cases get to the arbitration panel in February, like they did last week when they agreed to a one-year deal with arbitration-eligible lefty Blaine Hardy.