Colon market heating up. Orioles, mets, others. If it's 1 year deal, it'll be significant number, maybe $10M plus.Colon, who turns 41 in May, is coming off a season in which he compiled a 2.65 ERA (a career best) in 190.1 innings. He adjusts for not striking out many batters (5.53 K/9 in 2013) by not walking many (1.37 BB/9). He was rather lucky with his home run rate (6% HR/FB in 2013; career of 10.2%) and he posted the highest strand rate (80%) of his career (73.2%), but his .294 BABIP was right in line with his career average (.292), as was his groundball rate (41.5%; career of 41.8%). That's not Justin Masterson territory or anything, but it would have been second highest among regular Orioles starters last season, behind Houston-bound Scott Feldman (48.6%) but ahead of the also-likely-to-depart Jason Hammel (40%). The groundball rates of the other O's starters: Miguel Gonzalez (39%), Chris Tillman (38.6%), and Wei-Yin Chen (34.4%).
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 9, 2013
|Bartolo Colon (photo via Keith Allison)|
Besides Colon's age, the major concern seems to be Colon's 50-game suspension in 2012 for testing positive for synthetic testosterone usage. A controversial stem cell procedure administered in 2010 that very well may be the primary factor in reviving Colon's career also was investigated by Major League Baseball because the "orthopedic surgeon who performed the operation, Dr. Joseph Purita, had used HGH on other patients but denied using it on Colon, and ultimately MLB’s investigation found no wrongdoing." After his career seemed to be over after 2009, he posted a 4.00 ERA in 2011 with the Yankees in 164.1 innings, then went on to have two very good seasons with Oakland (for not much money: $2 million in 2012 and $3 million in 2013). So who knows exactly when Colon will revert back to his 2006-2009 self, but he's thrown at least 152 innings the past three seasons, which is something the O's rotation could use. Tillman and Chen seem locked in as the Orioles' No. 1 and 2 starters, but the rest of the starting rotation options (Gonzalez, Bud Norris, Kevin Gausman, Zach Britton, Steve Johnson, T.J. McFarland, etc.) all have their issues.
Some fans think the O's should steer clear of Colon simply because of his ties to performance-enhancing drugs. But as Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak, when talking about his team's decision to sign Jhonny Peralta, another player suspended 50 games for using PEDs, said:
When you think about what you’re trying to build it’s a lot of things that you factor into how you put a club together — character and makeup are some things that we weigh into our decision-making. But I think in his case, he admitted what he did. He took responsibility for it. At this point in the game there is nothing that says he can’t go play or isn’t free to go sign with some other club. I don’t think it’s the Cardinals’ responsibility necessarily to be the morality police. [Emphasis added.]If that stance is good enough for the Cardinals, arguably the best-run MLB franchise right now, then I think that mind-set would be just fine for the Orioles to adopt.
And here is Craig Calcaterra of NBC Sports' Hardball Talk on Peralta, free agent contracts, and PEDs:
Here’s a shocking idea: Jhonny Peralta got a big crazy free agent contract, not because he used PEDs, thereby messing up the incentive system, but because everyone in free agency is getting a big crazy free agent contract these days. . . . Peralta got paid because he’s a good player at a position with scant available talent in a market that is paying through the nose for even ordinary talent. If that’s troublesome to you, you have a lot of things to worry about besides whether 50-game suspensions are sufficient to deter PED use. [Emphasis in original.]I find the steroids/PEDs topic to be exhausting and much more appropriate for sports talk radio hosts and callers to yell about. (For those interested, Jon Shepherd's post back in August is well worth a read.)
Colon could help the Orioles win more baseball games, and that's what matters. His age is a concern, but there wouldn't be much risk attached to a one-year deal. And a $10 million deal for Colon is not unreasonable. Hiroki Kuroda signed yet another one-year contract with the Yankees, this time for $16 million (plus incentives), but he's both better and about two years younger than Colon.
Colon also would not cost the Orioles their first-round pick because the A's did not extend him a qualifying offer. So, by signing him, the O's could improve the rotation in the short term without sacrificing anything valuable in the long term. Still, he's likely seeking a two-year deal after three consecutive solid seasons, and I wouldn't be surprised if some team offered him such a deal. But that team shouldn't be the Orioles.