Posted on July 8, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
Bartolo Colon’s major league career is not over yet. Despite being designated for assignment by the Atlanta Braves last month, Colon has landed with another team. The Minnesota Twins announced Friday night that they have signed Colon to a minor league contract. Colon will report to triple-A but is expected to be called up to the Twins after one or two starts.
After signing with the Braves over the winter, this season has been a disaster for the 44-year old. In 13 starts, Colon was 2-8 with an ERA of 8.14. But the Twins saw enough in him to believe he can still be an effective pitcher.
“We felt like the stuff was similar to where it had been,” explains Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey. “So this was a good opportunity for us to add a guy who’s been really successful over the last couple of seasons, who’s had a little bit of a tough start to the year.”
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Colon cleared waivers after being released by the Braves, and so Atlanta is responsible for most of his remaining salary. The Twins will only pay Colon the major league minimum once they call him up. That limits Minnesota’s risk in signing the veteran.
The Twins were not the only team that showed an interest in signing Colon. New York Mets GM Sandy Alderson acknowledged that his club made a “strong effort” to bring back Colon, who spent the last three years with the Mets.
However, Colon chose to sign with the Twins rather than rejoin his old team in New York. In Minnesota, Colon may have a better chance to remain a starter. The Mets may have viewed Colon as an answer to their bullpen woes. The Twins also have a better chance of reaching the postseason, as they are just 1.5 games out of first place in the AL Central.
The Twins have already used 10 starting pitchers this season and have had trouble finding stability in the back of their rotation. Ervin Santana, Jose Berrios, and Adalberto Mejia have carried Minnesota’s rotation this year. But a veteran like Colon may be able to help complement that trio. Colon could also serve as a veteran influence on a young team that figures to be in a pennant race the second half of the season.
“He’s one of those guys who’s reinvented himself a number of times throughout his career,” said Falvey. “Certainly with some of our needs at the back of the rotation and otherwise, we felt like, ‘Let’s get him in, get him in on a minor league deal, get a chance for him to pitch down in Rochester and we’ll see from there.'”
While Minnesota is looking for some help during the stretch run, Colon is simply looking to extend what has been an amazing career. He’s already indicated to the Twins that he’s interested in pitching beyond this season.
“I know he wants to pitch more than just the rest of this year,” Falvey said. “He loves baseball. That’s been relayed to us for sure. He’s looking at this as an opportunity. He had a bump early in the year, but he’s ready to get back on the horse.”
Of course, considering how much Colon struggled with the Braves, there’s no guarantee he’ll be able to turn things around in Minnesota. But the Twins are willing to give the 44-year old a chance, and Minnesota could certainly use a reliable back-end starter. Colon landing with the Twins could end up being a move that benefits both parties and makes the veteran a relevant part of a playoff race.