Rumors of Daisuke Matsuzaka possibly being in the 2014 Mets rotation were premature, as the Mets and Bartolo Colon have agreed to a two-year, $20 million deal. After missing all of 2010, Colon has rejuvenated his career with the Yankees and Athletics.
Over the past three seasons, Colon has thrown 507 innings of 3.32 ERA/3.60 FIP/3.89 xFIP/3.98 SIERA ball, posting 9.1 fWAR and 9.8 bWAR. His control has been impeccable in that times, as he's posted a 16.3 K% (343 strikeouts) with a miniscule 4.4 BB% (92 walks). His groundball percentage has been 43.7%, slightly below the league average during that time.
Colon's success is bewildering given his age, weight, and a 90 mph fastball, a pitch he's thrown 85.7% of the time since 2011. There are also concerns about his success being reliant on Oakland Coliseum the past two seasons, although he posted ERAs of 3.27 and 2.73 on the road in 2012 and 2013.
For the Mets, Colon immediately becomes the Mets best starter in 2014, slotting in ahead of Zack Wheeler, Jon Niese, Dillon Gee, and whomever the Mets' fifth starter is. Even with some likely regression, Colon is a good bet to post an ERA under 4.00 in 2014.
After the loss of Matt Harvey, the Mets knew they weren't going to sign someone comparable but Colon is the closest they could have come within reason. Colon, along with his above average performance, will also be able to throw a lot of innings, having thrown at least 152.1 every year since 2011 including 190.1 in 2013. That is invaluable for a team that will be relying heavily on a second-year pitcher and two pitchers who have dealt with significant injuries in the past two years.
The move also has an impact on the Mets' minor leaguers. Before the Colon signing, there was speculation that pitching prospect Rafael Montero could make the Opening Day roster. Montero is now almost certain to begin the year at Triple-A Las Vegas and will allow more development time for him and uber prospect Noah Syndergaard.
Finally, the Colon signing means the Mets will allocate less starts to roster filler. In 2013, the Mets gave 23 starts to the likes of Carlos Torres, Aaron Harang, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Collin McHugh, and Aaron Laffey. They combined for -0.1 fWAR in 122 innings. Less starts from below average pitchers alone will help the Mets improve in 2014. It also means that a bullpen that threw 507 innings in 2013, 12th most in the majors, will not be relied upon so heavily.
Barring a calamitous injury/drop in performance, Colon will have a significant and positive impact on the 2014 Mets.