Rumor has it, the New York Mets have made starting pitcher Bartolo Colon available on the trade market. As the non-waiver trade deadline approaches (only 15 days away), there has not yet been much interest in the right-hander. But if the Mets can get a decent return for him, now is a good time to trade him.
The Mets finished the second half hot, winning eight of their last 10. It would be tempting to keep Colon to help them keep winning. But trading Colon would be far from a white flag. New York has depth in its starting rotation. Dillon Gee recently came back from an injury and pitched fabulously in his return, and Jonathan Niese is due back the week after the All-Star break. This gives the Mets six starting pitchers on their active roster. Daisuke Matsuzaka, who has done a solid job filling in for Gee and Niese, will likely return to the bullpen, but he could be used again if Colon is dealt.
Colon hasn’t had the kind of season he did last year with the Oakland A’s. The 41-year-old is 8-8 with a 3.99 ERA. He got off to a rough start, then was virtually untouchable for a period of seven starts. He went 6-0 with a 1.58 ERA in that span. Since then, he’s been touched up in the first inning of each of his starts. He hasn’t been awful, but he’s not the same pitcher he was last year when he had a 2.65 ERA, which is probably not surprising, since last year’s stats were such an aberration for him. His ERA this year is closer to his career mark of 3.95.
A trade would not be without its risks, however. Matsuzaka’s chariot could turn into a pumpkin, and all those walks might finally sneak up and bite him. Prospects Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero have struggled this year, and may not figure things out in time to be effective replacements for Colon. Niese’s shoulder might start barking again, leaving another hole in the rotation.
On top of that, Colon is north of 40 years of age, and is owed the remainder of his $9 million salary this year, as well as $11 million next year. Whether teams want a guy like that for a decent prospect or a major-league bat could be a long shot. The Mets shouldn’t give him away — he can still be quite valuable to the team — but it would be nice to have that extra money to spend on a shortstop going into next year.