Bartolo Colon wants a chance to return to the New York Mets and the team should consider a reunion.
Bartolo Colon, who has not pitched in the majors since the end of the 2018 season, wants to finish his career with one more spin with the New York Mets. Part of it might be that he wants to get at least 250 career wins. He might just want to end things on his terms. Should the team bring him back?
Over the years, Colon has given Mets fans many happy memories. Of course, the top one is his first career homer. There was also the behind-the-back toss. He also was noticeably nimble for a large man. He wasn’t afraid to poke fun at himself. He even made his missed swings fun to watch. Oh yes, he won 15 games twice during his three-year tenure, and he won 14 games the other year.
Here’s why the Mets should think about bringing back Colon.
Colon as a Potential Safety Net
While the Mets might sign a marquee pitcher like Trevor Bauer over the course of the off-season, the team should heed the mantra that there is never enough pitching. They have entered other seasons feeling like they had a glut of starting pitchers only to fall prey to the injury bug. Having Colon waiting in the wings would be a good thing rather than having to patch together a rotation again. He would make an excellent clubhouse presence.
Yes, they do have Jacob deGrom and Marcus Stroman, but there is no guarantee that either of them will be able to stay healthy. Will Noah Syndergaard step up after missing time from Tommy John ligament replacement surgery or will he be ineffective or even injured again? Again, Colon could help… and keep the team from having to yo-yo Seth Lugo from the bullpen to the rotation.
Proceed With Caution
This is not to say that the team should lavish him with a large contract or even a guarantee. It would be ideal that they give him a Minor League deal with a Spring Training invite. To make it even more palatable, they should load it with incentives based on his making the team and reaching certain milestones. This would be a low-risk with a possible medium reward venture.
Colon is 47 and will turn 48 in May. He could also act as an assistant pitching coach to Jeremy Hefner – someone with all of his years of pitching experience would be a good person to listen to. Then perhaps he could slide into a role with the coaching staff or in the Minors once his career is over. It would be a good transition for him.
The Unsentimental Game
Despite its portrayal in the movies, pro baseball is not forgiving on aging or injured players. Willie Mays was a shell of his former self during his time with the Mets. David Wright could not get the fairy tale ending. Time even caught up with the seemingly ageless Jamie Moyer. Like Colon, Moyer tried to return after missing two years… and it did not go well. Since Colon left the Mets, his career basically fell off a cliff. Would one more season serve as a parachute or would he crash even harder?
Baseball is entering an era where teams are filling their front offices with people who pledge fealty to analytics. They pore over everything looking for things that can help them, ranging from spin rate to other things. High-tech equipment is being installed in every ballpark. Players themselves are looking for ways to improve their chances, devoting off-seasons to learning things to add to their arsenal. Colon might feel like a dinosaur.
If Colon does have a chance of coming back, he might have an ally in Sandy Alderson, who is giving Tim Tebow a chance to return despite his being a soon-to-be 34-year-old who has never made the Majors. Another factor is new owner Steve Cohen. He might be more willing to open his wallet for even a cheap contract than the Wilpons. Will Uncle Stevie do that?
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Ultimately, if the Mets do give Colon a shot, he may come into Spring Training and determine that the game has passed him by. That’s all well and good – he could decide to write his own ending. But the team, especially with this new ownership, should give him the book to write it in.