It’s a Brave(s) new world for Bartolo Colon…
The 43-year-old Dominican MLB pitcher has agreed to a one-year, $12.5 million deal with the Atlanta Braves, pending a physical.
Colon will be joined in Atlanta’s rotation by R.A. Dickey, who agreed to a one-year, $8 million deal on Thursday.
The Braves haven’t confirmed the agreement with Colon, who produced a 3.45 ERA over 33 starts for the New York Mets this past season.
When the Braves entered this offseason, they aimed to target free-agent pitchers who were willing to take short-term deals, because they did not want to block the path of their young starting-pitching prospects who may soon be deemed Major League Baseball ready. Dickey and Colon were immediately projected as top targets, primarily because they have recently been effective and were likely to take a short-term deal at this stage of their careers.
If all goes according to plan, Atlanta will become just the eighth team in Major League history to have two pitchers at least 42 years old to make at least one start in the same season.
The 1990 Texas Rangers (Charlie Hough and Nolan Ryan), the ’87 Cleveland Indians (Steve Carlton and Phil Niekro) and the ’81 Braves (Niekro and Gaylord Perry) are the only teams to have had two of these 42-plus pitchers make at least 10 starts in the same season.
Initially, it was thought Colon would have preferred to remain with the Mets, but the Braves were helped by their lucrative offer (Colon made $7.25 million this past season) and the longstanding relationship the entertaining pitcher shares with president of baseball operations John Hart dating back to their days with the Indians in the 1990s.
Colon also was not guaranteed a spot within the Mets’ rotation, and he is just 11 wins away from matching Juan Marichal‘s record for the most wins (243) by a Dominican-born pitcher.
With Colon and Dickey, the Braves have added a pair of former Cy Young Award winners with a combined 769 career starts and 85 years of age to their starting rotation.
Colon has produced a 3.94 ERA over 500 starts during a career that dates back to April 4, 1997, when he was backed by an Indians lineup that included Atlanta’s current hitting coach Kevin Seitzer and Julio Franco, who at that time (at the age of 37) was still capable of playing second base.
After winning the 2005 American League Cy Young Award with the Angels, Colon battled the lingering effects of a partially torn rotator cuff and produced a 5.18 ERA while totaling just 47 starts over the next five seasons (2006-10). He missed the ’10 campaign while undergoing a stem cell shoulder surgery that drew MLB‘s attention, and he received a 50-game suspension in ’12 after testing positive for a testosterone that was in violation of MLB’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
Colon experienced a resurgence in 2013, when he posted a 2.65 ERA over 30 starts for the A’s at age 40. He signed with the Mets the following offseason and proceeded to produce a 3.90 ERA over the past three seasons.