Although a fan favorite during his two-year stint with the Mets, Bartolo Colon has likely tossed his last pitch for the team. The free agent starter pitcher doesn't have a place in the 2016 rotation—assuming Jon Niese will be the fifth starter—but general manager Sandy Alderson said the organization is "open-minded" to re-signing Colon as a reliever and rotation insurance.
Colon, who will turn 43 next May, had a 4.14 ERA through 194.2 innings last season. The veteran gave the club what it signed up for in 2014, making 31 starts in each of his two years of a $20 million deal. Despite Alderson's keeping the door open, it's probably time to say goodbye.
As long as Colon is interested in continuing his career, he'll find a rotation spot somewhere. New York already has Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and Niese lined up for next season's staff, but few other teams have five such options. A stable innings-eater will draw interest, whether from a contender needing back-end depth or a rebuilding squad looking to hold the fort down with a short-term stopgap.
Since 2012, Colon has a microscopic 3.5% walk percentage, tied with Cliff Lee for an MLB-low among starters. During those four seasons, he has a 3.60 ERA and 3.61 FIP, led by his excellent 2013 campaign with the Oakland Athletics. As a soft-tosser who pounds the strike zone, he'll benefit from finding another pitcher's park.
With the Mets, Colon would operate as a long reliever/sixth-starter and injury fill-in. He'd have to take a pay cut for such a scenario to make financial sense for the Mets, and taking less money for a diminished role isn't a logical choice on the player's part. Alderson's comments may get some fans' hopes up, but expect the two parties to amicably go their separate ways.