Adam Rubin of ESPN reports that Bartolo Colon should be a “no-brainer” to return to the Mets in 2017, a piece of news that is bound to create joy in the hearts of all Mets fans. Colon said, "If they gave me the opportunity, I would be delighted to come back."
As recently as December 2015, it appeared that Colon’s time in Flushing was over. The Mets seemed poised to move on to a glorious future with a rotation throwing exclusively 94 MPH or more. When Colon re-signed last December, he was intended as a stopgap to hold a rotation spot until Zack Wheeler’s triumphant return. No plan survives contact with the enemy, however, and as of writing Colon has thrown more innings for the Mets in 2016 than any pitcher not named Syndergaard.
Re-signing Colon for 2017 makes excellent baseball sense. While theoretically all five of the Mets’ young flamethrowers should be ready for Opening Day, it is never smart to bet on young pitchers’ health so far in advance. Colon can serve as a hedge against the health bets. Furthermore, despite his age (Bartolo will be 44 next May), Colon has been a very effective pitcher during his time with Mets. Since the start of his Mets tenure in 2014, Colon has thrown 555.2 innings, good for 23rd among all pitchers in that span. Last offseason, unspectacular innings-eaters like Wei-Yin Chen and Ian Kennedy signed five-year deals worth $80 million and $70 million dollars respectively. Both pitchers have thrown fewer innings than Colon since 2014, while logging worse ERAs and FIPs. To contrast their bloated salaries, Colon is only making $7.25 million dollars in 2016, and can likely be signed for a similar amount next year.
Putting aside Colon’s effectiveness as a player, re-signing Colon would do much to please the fan base. Colon is a cult hero among Mets fans, and for good reason. It is incredibly enjoyable to watch him baffle major league hitters with 85-92 MPH fastballs. Bartolo-the-batter is also a joy to watch—there is no one else who looks nearly as silly swinging and missing, or who appears to have as much fun doing it. His home run against the Padres was one of the best moments of the 2016 season.
Retaining Colon for 2017 should be a no-brainer. Though age will likely catch up with him at some point, another one-year deal for the Big Apple is a low-risk play that should reward the Mets with ample innings and entertainment.