New York Mets News

Bartolo Colon: Was he worth the money?

By Rich Sparago

Last December, Sandy Alderson signed Bartolo Colon to a two-year contract worth $20 million. Colon earned $9 million in 2014, and is set to earn $11 million next year. At the time of the signing, Alderson’s motives were clear. He wanted to bring in an established pitcher, who could pitch 200 innings, while the organization allowed its young hurlers to develop in Triple A.

Sep 11, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Bartolo Colon (40) after giving up a 4th inning two-run home run to Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon (6) at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

In some respects, Alderson got what he was looking for. Colon tossed 196.1 innings. He was reliable and durable during the season, making 30 starts. However, Colon, coming off a record of 18-6 with a 2.65 ERA in 2013, posted a record of 14-13 with a 4.08 ERA for the Mets.

Colon was somewhat inconsistent during the season. He had some very good starts (April 8th at Atlanta- 7 IP, 0ER, May 28th vs. Pittsburgh- 7.1 IP, 0ER, September 16th vs. Miami- 7.2 IP, 1 ER), and some bad ones (April 13th at LAA- 5 IP, 9 ER, May 12th at NYY- 5.2 IP, 7 ER, and 3 other starts where he allowed 6 runs or more in fewer than 6 IP).

In retrospect, none of this should be surprising. Colon turned 41 in May, and it was logical to assume that his effectiveness would decline. The question was, just how quickly would that happen? Colon by no means was a bust in 2014, as he gave the Mets a respectable effort and decent results.

Now there’s the value question. Colon’s $9 million salary represents approximately 1/9th-1/10th of the Mets’ team salary budget in 2014. Did the Mets get that kind of value from Colon? Allowing pitchers such as Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Rafael Montero to ripen in the minors (for varying lengths of time) certainly has a value. But could that value have come more inexpensively, allowing for some of Colon’s $9 million to go toward a position player?

I’ve felt all year that the Mets could have signed a pitcher to do what Colon did for far less money. Let’s not forget that Colon was 1 game over .500 this year. His bWAR came in at 0.5 (slightly above replacement level). For all of the comic relief provided by his at-bats and seemingly jovial nature on the mound, the Mets got a 0.5 WAR for $9 million.

I wrote here in December, before Colon was signed, that I’d pass on signing the burly right-hander. He gave us some moments, but I’ll stick with my original instincts on Colon. What are your thoughts?