SUNDAY, 4:48pm: Colon will have a chance to earn up to $1.25MM in incentives, per Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets that the contract has a March 24 opt-out date if Colon has not yet been added to the MLB roster. Meanwhile, Heyman tweeted the breakdown of the incentives package.
4:09pm: The deal comes with a $1.75MM salary if Colon makes Texas’ roster, Grant tweets.
4:47pm: Colon has agreed to a minors deal with the Rangers, according to an announcement from executive vice president of communications John Blake (Twitter link). The pact includes an invitation to spring training.
“Bartolo brings a track record of durability and success in the Major Leagues,” general manager Jon Daniels said (via Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, on Twitter). “He pounds the strike zone and provides quality competition for our rotation. Welcome to Texas, Big Sexy!”
9:52am: Colon and the Rangers are “close” to an agreement, Jon Heyman of FanRag tweets.
SATURDAY: The Rangers and 44-year-old right-hander Bartolo Colon are in talks on a minor-league contract, Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com reports. Sanchez adds that there is “momentum”. Mark Feinsand of MLB.com confirms that the two sides are working on a deal, but cautions that “nothing is done yet”.
Since debuting with the Indians in 1997, Colon has seen MLB playing time in 20 seasons. After a handful of successful campaigns in Cleveland, Colon was shipped to the Expos for Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore and Brandon Phillips in what would later become known as one of the most lopsided trades in MLB history. Just a few years later, Colon won the 2005 AL Cy Young award while pitching for the Angels.
In the years following, the righty’s performance fell off for a few seasons due to injuries and ineffectiveness. He failed to top 100 innings in any of the 2006-2009 campaigns, and averaged just half a win above replacement across those seasons. His 5.18 ERA during that span wasn’t indicative of the early-career Colon. He ultimately chose to sit out the 2010 season due to ongoing pains resulting from damage to his rotator cuff, ligaments and tendons. At 36 years of age, it seemed possible his career might have come to an end.
Prior to the 2011 season, however, Colon opted to undergo a somewhat controversial treatment during which his shoulder and elbow were injected with fat and bone marrow stem cells. The right-hander’s velocity shot back up to 95 MPH, and he subsequently enjoyed a bounceback 2011 season with the Yankees in which he posted a 4.00 ERA across 29 appearances (26 starts) for the Bombers. Fangraphs estimated his performance at 2.7 WAR. That success earned Colon a one-year $3MM contract with the Athletics.
Colon went on to post at least 2.4 fWAR in each of the next five seasons, including a 2016 season in which he endearingly became the oldest MLB pitcher to hit his first home run (42 years old). But age seemed to finally catch up with him last season across 143 innings with the Braves and Twins, as he posted a 6.48 ERA that ranked second-worst among MLB pitchers to throw at least 100 innings. His 5.60 K/9 also ranked in the bottom five.
It remains to be seen if Colon, who’ll turn 45 in May, has anything left in the tank. But the two sides end up reaching a deal, he can compete for the fifth spot in the Rangers’ rotation behind Cole Hamels, Matt Moore, Doug Fister and Mike Minor.