With the first out of his start Tuesday night, Gio Gonzalez activated a nice vesting option.

After a fairly rough 2016 season on the surface (4.57 ERA over 32 starts), Gio Gonzalez entered Tuesday night with a 2.50 ERA (third in National League) and a 14 wins (tied for fourth in the NL). In the final guaranteed year of his contract, he has been a pretty nice bargain at $12 million in a nice rebound season.

Gonzalez needed 180 innings pitched this season to activate a $12 million vesting option for next year. He had fallen just short of that mark in 2015 (175.2 innings) and 2016 (177.1 innings), but Gonzalez already had more innings than either of those seasons through his first 28 starts this year.

In the top of the first inning against the Atlanta Braves Tuesday night, with a strikeout of outfielder and leadoff man Ender Inciarte, Gonzalez activated the vesting option.

After that lucrative beginning, Gonzalez’s outing went downhill. He allowed a run in the first inning, then three more in the third and another in the fourth. Gonzalez departed after five innings with a line of five runs allowed on seven hits and 90 pitches thrown. He did strike out eight and walk just one batter, but Gonzalez’s ERA now sits at 2.68 for the season.

Compared to what his rotation mates Max Scherzer ($22.1 million) and even Steven Strasburg to a lesser degree ($15 million) will make next year, Gonzalez should again be a nice bargain for the Nationals at $12 million. He’ll turn 32 next week, but he has been durable (more than 30 starts in six of the last seven seasons, on track to be seven of eight seasons) with very stable peripheral ratios in he range of 8.5-9.0 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9. That’s the epitome of a solid No. 3 or No. 4 starter, and Gonzalez is also the lone left-hander in Washington’s starting rotation.

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