Even at 44 years old, Bartolo Colon still has a lot to offer the New York Mets in 2018, both on and off the field.
The New York Mets are a team built on pitching, but oddly enough, pitching will be their biggest question mark heading into 2018. So, how can a team that employed only one starting pitcher that was able to throw more than 120 innings in 2017 make their rotation less concerning? Signing a pitcher that hasn’t thrown less than 143 innings in the past seven years might just be the answer.
The Mets signed Bartolo Colon after a 2013 season in Oakland that saw him put together an 18-6 record with a 2.65 ERA, easily one of the best performances of his 20-year career. The Mets had a bevy of young pitchers rising through the ranks and employed Colon due to his ability to throw quality innings in large quantities.
Throughout his three-year stint in Queens, Colon was rock-solid, starting 98 games and winning 44 of the contests. After a successful three seasons, he departed to Atlanta for a one-year, $12.5 million contract.
After having the wheels fall off in both Atlanta and Minnesota during the 2017 season, Colon is a free agent again and very interested in a return to Citi Field, as Mike Puma of the New York Post reported in late December.
Heard Bartolo Colon might be open to a minor-league deal, but only for a return to Mets. Sounds like the Mets' interest is minimal at this point.
— Mike Puma (@NYPost_Mets) December 23, 2017
The rumors suggest that Colon would only consider taking a minor-league deal if it were with the Mets, which put simply means that he prefers to be back at Citi Field in 2018.
Being that Colon only needs to notch six more wins in 2018 to overtake Dennis Martinez for the record of most wins ever by a Latin pitcher, it makes sense that he’d want to continue his career in 2018.
Returning to his old stomping ground, where he had success and enjoyed the clubhouse environment, makes it an ideal fit. As a Met, Colon produced more than just on the field, as he swiftly became a fan favorite and clubhouse leader.
Along starting pitching lines: While Bartolo might want to return to the Mets, not hearing that's something Mets are actively pursuing.
— Matt Ehalt (@MattEhalt) January 22, 2018
For whatever reason, the Mets at this time do not seem inclined to hand out a league-minimum, non-guaranteed contract to Colon. It’s a bit puzzling that they would not want to bring him back after being so beloved by the fans and players.
The rotation, specifically, enjoyed his presence on the roster as the young guns were eager to learn from the seasoned veteran, and created a long-term bond with him as well.
Bartolo Colon on the Syndergaard injury: "I saw it on my phone and was like 'Oh, no.' He is like family."
— Mike Puma (@NYPost_Mets) May 1, 2017
Now, if the Mets do make a reunion with ‘Big Sexy’ happen, it will be a low-risk, high-reward signing. On a minor league deal, Colon would be guaranteed nothing by the Mets, but could possibly give them everything they need.
With Rafael Montero, Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz likely vying for the fourth and fifth rotation spots, Colon may have trouble cracking the rotation out of Spring Training.
However, Colon does have experience working out of the bullpen. During the 2015 World Series run, Colon appeared in seven games out of the bullpen, allowing three runs in 8.2 innings of work.
Colon could also spend time in Triple-A Las Vegas as an insurance policy for a rotation that is oft-injured.
Colon’s leadership and presence in Spring Training alone are enough to warrant a minor-league deal, and the upside of him an innings-eating fifth starter—and someone that fans would actually come out to see play—makes it a slam dunk.
With no risk present and questions swirling about the rotation’s ability to stay on the field, the Mets would be smart to bring back Bart.