ANAHEIM -- Gio Gonzalez arrived in the Yankees' Spring Training clubhouse on March 19 representing insurance for their rotation, but as a contractual opt-out date approached this past Saturday, it was clear that the club would not be promoting the veteran left-hander to its big league staff.
Two days after Gonzalez opted out of his contract, the Yankees released the 33-year-old Monday, making him a free agent.
Speaking on WFAN, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said the club had no room in its rotation and that Gonzalez said he had no interest in pitching out of the bullpen. Gonzalez's Yankees deal was worth a base salary of $3 million if promoted to the big leagues, plus $300,000 for each start.
"He's going to sign somewhere and be a starter with somebody in the big leagues," Cashman said. "That wasn't the issue. ... We brought him in as starter insurance. The contract was designed that way, too. He has no interest in being a reliever and now we were staring at this opt-out where he's pitched well last two outings and I don't have a starting spot for him."
Though ace Luis Severino is on the injured list and not expected to return until July, Cashman believes the Yankees are well-stocked with Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, Domingo German, CC Sabathia and J.A. Happ, plus Jonathan Loaisiga, who will be recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to start against the Angels on Tuesday.
"In the dialogue I've had directly with him, as well as our own assessments, is it worth us throwing $3 million into the bullpen and hope it works out?" Cashman said. "The contract was kind of prohibitive also. It had so many incentives that geared up toward starting, so it wouldn't be a tradable thing for any of these teams that are going to sign him now as a starter. They'll repackage, they'll make a new deal, whatever it's going to be."
Gonzalez, who recently left longtime rep Scott Boras in favor of CAA, made three starts for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, going 2-1 with a 6.00 ERA. He was roughed up for eight runs over four innings in his debut, but has won each of his last two outings, allowing two runs over 11 frames.
"We had to look at a lot of different ways and honored the fact that he was starter insurance for us, and when that insurance policy was expiring we couldn't cash in on it because I didn't have a starting spot for him," Cashman said.