The Los Angeles Angels have emerged as one of the top contenders to acquire Bartolo Colon, who this week cleared waivers, allowing the Mets to trade him to any team. Despite the Angels’ need for another starting pitcher, the team’s impending luxury tax breach and Colon’s $11 million 2015 salary may ultimately scare them off. With the August deadline fast approaching, Sandy Alderson will have to act fast to put together an approach to sending Colon to the Halos. Here are two.
Aug 24, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Bartolo Colon (40) throws to first base to get Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Andre Ethier (not pictured) out during the fourth inning at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
While they would certainly accept a good deal, the Mets don’t have to move Colon this week. New York could hold onto him until the offseason, but if they fail to move him during the winter they will have no room for him in a 2015 rotation that will include a rejuvenated Matt Harvey and maybe even Noah Syndergaard. With just this week and the winter to clear him, Alderson must take any opportunity he gets.
Colon’s eight-figure salary for his 42-year-old season is without a doubt the elephant in the room. One approach Sandy could take is offering to eat Bartolo’s money in 2015. This avenue would decrease New York’s payroll flexibility, but it could open up the bidding from teams whose interest in Colon depends on that salary.
With more competition, L.A. of Anaheim would need to up the ante to win the Bartolo sweepstakes. In this scenario, Alderson can target one of the organization’s higher-rated prospects. One such prospect is Double-A third baseman Kaleb Cowart, who despite falling from his perch atop the Angels’ farm system from the beginning of 2014 is still in their top five. Despite his recent struggles, 22-year-old Cowart has great upside and could serve the Mets as either a utility infielder or a replacement third baseman should, God forbid, David Wright regress a la Dale Murphy post-1987.
The Halos are a team built to win now, and they have a legitimate chance of winning their first World Series title since 2002. In their pursuit of a second championship banner for Angel Stadium, L.A. could be willing to bite the luxury bullet and take on Colon’s salary. In return for the salary relief, Alderson would have to accept either a lesser prospect or one who is still a few years from major league viability.
Feb. 21, 2113; Tempe, AZ, USA: Los Angeles Angels infielder Kaleb Cowart poses for a portrait during photo day at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
In this scenario, the Mets have their pick of a handful of prospects. Dominican outfielder Natanael Delgado, who turns just 19 in October, has a .761 OPS over almost two full seasons of Rookie ball. With how fast he’s advancing it may be a stretch to get him, but Alderson has worked wonders before. If not Delgado, the Mets can go after Single-A second baseman Kody Eaves, who flashes some speed and is improving as a fielder, or Double-A shortstop Eric Stamets, who profiles like a Juan Lagares at his position (great glove, developing bat).
If there’s one thing Sandy Alderson is known for in his time with the Mets, it’s his keen eye for prospects in the trade market. With multiple ways to skin this particular cat, the odds of Alderson bringing in a decent Anaheim haul for Bartolo Colon are that much better.