After Bartolo Colon cleared waivers on Monday, the New York Mets are free to trade him to any team before the end of August. With several playoff contenders in need of some extra pitching, it shouldn’t be hard for the Mets to find teams interested in acquiring Colon, but the Mets would be better off holding onto Colon for now and either trading him this offseason or keep him for the 2015 season.
It would certainly be easy for the Mets to let Colon go; they could save themselves at least a large portion of the $11 million he’s owed next season, which would be useful if the team’s payroll doesn’t see a significant increase. The Mets may also be able to receive a meaningful prospect or two in exchange for Colon, much like they got Vic Black and prospect Dilson Herrera in a trade last August for Marlon Byrd and John Buck. But re-assessing the trade market for Colon in the offseason may be beneficial for the Mets, as there could be more potential suitors.
Not trading Colon right now also leaves the door open for the Mets to make him part of the team’s starting rotation in 2015. If the Mets are going to make a serious playoff run in 2015, it would benefit them to have an experienced veteran like Colon on the staff. The rest of the starters are all young pitchers with no experience being in playoff race at the major league level. The value that Colon would provide to the Mets if they find themselves in that position a year from now can’t be underestimated.
Of course, on the surface, it appears that the Mets won’t need Colon next season, making it easy for them to trade him now or during the offseason. Without Colon, the Mets could conceivably put together a rotation of Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jon Niese, Jacob deGrom and Dillon Gee, with top pitching prospects Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero and Steven Matz waiting in Triple-A. However, while trading Colon before the 2015 season would be done primarily to save money, the Mets may also choose to trade some of their young pitchers in order to acquire an impact bat; and if the Mets do end up using their young pitchers in a trade, they can’t afford to also trade Colon.
At the end of the day, holding onto Colon at the waiver deadline will give the Mets more flexibility this offseason. It will allow them to trade him this offseason or trade their young pitching and hold onto Colon in 2015 to be a veteran leader on a team they hope will compete for a spot in the postseason. There are certainly benefits to trading Colon right now, but they’re ultimately better off keeping him for now and keeping their options open.