Posted on November 11, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
For the second straight day, the Atlanta Braves have signed a starting pitcher who is over the age of 40. On Thursday, Atlanta signed knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, and on Friday, the Braves followed that up by signing the ageless Bartolo Colon. The deal is still pending a physical and not yet confirmed by the Braves, but sources indicate the deal is for one year and $12.5 million.
The 43-year old Colon has spent that last three seasons with the New York Mets, helping them reach the World Series in 2015. He was 15-8 with a 3.43 ERA in 2016, his best since coming to the Big Apple after an 18-win season with the Oakland A’s in 2013. Colon has somehow become more effective in his 40’s than he was for much of his 30’s. He now throws the ball with pinpoint control and changes speeds on his fastball to keep opposing hitters off balance.
The Braves become Colon’s 9th franchise, although the veteran has a personal history with Atlanta president of baseball operations John Hart from their days with the Cleveland Indians during the 1990’s. During what has become a storied and utterly amazing career, Colon has been named to the All-Star Team four times, including this past season. He also won a Cy Young in 2005 while pitching with the Angels. Last May, Colon also became the oldest player to hit his first career home run.
With the Braves, Colon will team up with Dickey, another former Cy Young winner in his 40’s, to provide support for Atlanta ace Julio Teheran. Both Dickey and Colon have been surprisingly immune to injuries in recent years, meaning the Braves should get at least 30 starts out of each in 2017, giving their rotation both stability and consistency.
With Teheran, Colon, and Dickey leading the rotation, the Braves can fill out the back end of their rotation with young pitchers like Matt Wisler, Mike Foltynewicz, and Aaron Blair. Heading into the offseason, the Braves wanted to improve their rotation without blocking the path of many of their top pitching prospects like Sean Newcomb and Kolby Allard. By signing Colon and Dickey to short-term deals, they have done just that.
Colon ending up with the Braves is a little surprising, as many believed he would end up back with the Mets after three impressive seasons in Queens. Late in the season, Colon spoke about his desire to return to the Mets in 2017. The Mets certainly had some interest as well, but Colon may have ended up pitching out of the bullpen if New York’s other pitchers were healthy. Even if the Mets had strong interest in Colon, they were always unlikely to match or exceed the $12.5 million he’s getting from the Braves.
Without Colon in their rotation for the first time in three years, the Mets will move forward with Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, and Zack Wheeler. Despite the fact that four of those pitchers finished the 2016 season on the DL, the Mets are hopeful to have all five healthy in 2017. Moreover, with the late-season emergence of Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman as viable starters, the Mets should have enough rotation depth to survive without Colon in 2017.
Of course, with the Mets and Braves being in the same division, Colon should get a chance to see his former team on at least a few occasions next year as a member of the Atlanta Braves, as the man they call Big Sexy continues his unbelievable career.