Mets fandom seems to be divided nowadays. On one side, the optimists who believe the team is on the verge of a breakthrough, which includes myself. On the other, the pessimists who preach doom and gloom, which includes…well, everyone else. Optimist or pessimist, though, Mets fans should be able to agree on at least one potential trade this summer: Bartolo Colon should be shopped around.
Jun 24, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Bartolo Colon (40) reacts as he heads to the dugout after the top of the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at Citi Field. The Mets defeated the Athletics 10-1. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Even at age 41, Colon has been consistently excellent on the mound. Today’s start notwithstanding, Bartolo had allowed two earned runs or less in his last seven starts, winning six of them. His presence in the clubhouse has been just as important as his game performance. He’s served as a mentor to many of the Mets’ young pitchers. His recent success hitting and bunting also shows that, even at the tail end of his career, Colon is still willing to work on parts of his all-around game. It’s refreshing behavior from a veteran pitcher, and more importantly it’s led to a couple extra wins.
All that being said, however, Colon doesn’t have much of a place on New York’s roster at the end of this year. Even with the extra guaranteed year, the Mets basically signed him as a placeholder for Matt Harvey in 2014. By 2015, Harvey will be back, and the struggling Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard should have it figured out as well. There will be questionable room for some of New York’s younger starters by then, let alone a guy who turns 42 around Memorial Day.
While the Mets are on the fringe of the playoff race, other teams more in the thick of it can find value in a veteran starter who still has fuel left in the tank. Sandy Alderson has a good track record turning older talent into quality prospects (see Beltran, Dickey, Buck/Byrd). It’s likely he won’t be able to bring in studs like Travis d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard for just Colon, who is four years older than R.A. Dickey was at the end of 2012 and doesn’t throw a knuckleball. He should be able to bring in one or two mid-level, high-upside prospects, a la Dilson Herrera or Wuilmer Becerra.
Jun 13, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Bartolo Colon (40) claps as he walks off the field after the seventh inning of a game against the San Diego Padres at Citi Field. The Mets defeated the Padres 6-2. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
As for the immediate hole in the rotation Colon’s departure will create, the Mets have more than enough viable replacement options. Dillon Gee should return before the trade deadline. Jacob deGrom is the most likely candidate for bullpen demotion after Gee’s return, but he could be plugged back into the rotation after a Colon trade. Barring no further setbacks, either Montero or Syndergaard could be ready for major-league action in August, after the trade deadline. Jeremy Hefner (remember him?) is even on track to return to the big leagues by September. Any one of them could step up in place of Colon post-trade.
Bartolo Colon has been a pleasant surprise for the Mets in 2014. He’s been solid on the mound and in the clubhouse, not to mention a lighthearted source of entertainment at the plate. But recognizing his potential value for an established contender and lack of available rotation space in 2015, Sandy Alderson should look to trade Colon at the deadline. This is a trade all Met fans, optimist and pessimist alike, should be able to get behind.