If you've been following the site or the Twitter feed for a while, you know that I've had my eyes on Bartolo Colon as a member of the Mariners rotation for a long time. The argument this offseason was simple -- the Mariners need stability at the back end of the rotation, Colon is durable and already well past his decline phase, still throwing an incredibly basic arsenal of pitches with pinpoint control. We know exactly what Colon is, and what he will be -- a strike-throwing tub of comedy and efficiency.
Colon has pretty much done what's been expected of him after signing a two year, $20 million deal with the Mets, who were the only team seemingly willing to give the 41 year-old pitcher multiple years. Though his ERA sits a bit higher than the past two years at 3.99, he's missing more bats in the National League, still walking almost nobody at 1.26 BB/9. His peripherals are right in line with his previous two years in Oakland, as his FIP comes in at 3.66, his xFIP at 3.78, and his SIERA at 3.81 -- the last two being his best in the past three seasons.
Colon's inflated ERA can be attributed to some poor sequencing of when he's allowed his hits, as he's struggled to strand runners this year (70.6 LOB%) compared to years past. He's calmed down after a rocky start, and is cruising along as normal. Fat joke.
And now he's available. Adam Rubin from ESPN New York is reporting that the Mets are willing to deal Colon less than halfway through his contract, and they're seeking a shortstop or left fielder in return. The Mariners can certainly help with one of those, as Nick Franklin and Chris Taylor are hanging out in Tacoma, both cooled down since their scorching starts, though Franklin is starting to catch fire again after a struggle following his last demotion.
There's no need for the full profile on Colon, because everything I wrote back in November is still true. He's the exact same pitcher he was then, and he still fills a major need for the M's. Roenis Elias is starting to unravel and hasn't thrown more than 148.1 professional innings. He's already at 113. James Paxton, sadly, is another rehab setback away from being lost for the year. Lloyd McClendon wasn't too happy with Taijuan Walker's last start in AAA. Chris Young is on pace for more innings than he's ever thrown. The Mariners stretch run rotation looks great through glasses shaded with a pinkish hue, but it isn't hard to see things going south without reinforcements.
Most of the attention is on the outfield bat, and that's fine. Getting another starting pitcher for the stretch run is still a big need. There's a pretty good chance the Mariners are stacking up their trade chips, trying to figure out whether or not they want to push them all in for something huge or divvy them up to use on a couple of different pieces. My personal preference is the latter. Colon and Byrd, or some other combination of similar pieces, would be a nice way to add a few wins without gutting the future.
Colon probably costs the Mariners Nick Franklin or Chris Taylor, and maybe more. Even though nobody else wanted to give Colon multiple years in the offseason, part of that concern is washed away with what he's already doing at 41. There's certainly some risk associated with Colon's ability to keep this up next year, but there will be with a lot of veteran targets, including Byrd.
It does seems like a national disservice to take a bat out of Colon's hands. I'm very sorry for suggesting this.
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