The Braves are set to release veteran righty Bartolo Colon, who was designated for assignment last week, as Grant McAuley of 929 The Game / CBS Radio first reported (on Twitter). FanRag’s Jon Heyman writes that the Braves didn’t drum up any interest in Colon (presumably, any efforts to do so included Atlanta eating a vast majority of the remaining contract), and he’ll officially hit the open market today.
There have been multiple reports linking the Mets to a reunion with Colon, though Heyman notes that other clubs have some interest as well now that he can be had for the prorated portion of the league minimum — which is roughly $254K through season’s end.
Colon, 44, pitched to an awful 8.14 ERA through 63 innings with the Braves, averaging 6.0 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 and 1.57 HR/9 with a 45.6 percent ground-ball rate. Of course, despite those numbers, there’s at least some reason to be optimistic about a turnaround. Colon’s .360 average on balls in play is the highest in baseball among pitchers with at least 60 innings pitched, yet he doesn’t rank anywhere near the top of the league in terms of hard contact allowed. In fact, he’s 23rd out of 129 pitchers in terms of weak contact induced, per that same innings criteria. He’s also posted a bizarrely low 48.2 percent strand rate.
That, of course, isn’t to say that anyone should expect a return to last year’s 3.43 ERA form, though. While ERA alternatives like FIP, xFIP and SIERA all suggest that Colon’s sky-high ERA is due for some correction, each still pegs him right around 5.00. And hitter-friendly SunTrust Park did no favors for Colon (8.25 ERA in 24 innings), the reality is that his ERA was also north of 8.00 on the road, where he surrendered eight of his 11 homers.
Colon’s track record of durability and affable clubhouse persona will likely appeal to a number of teams, but few contending clubs could realistically pick him up and insert him directly into the rotation. Of course, Colon could still help those teams by reporting to Triple-A to try to get back on track or by joining the bullpen as a long reliever, perhaps eventually proving himself worthy of another look as a starter.