The Rangers announced Monday that they’ve selected the contract of veteran right-hander Bartolo Colon and optioned fellow righty Nick Gardewine to Triple-A. To clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Colon, Texas moved righty Ricardo Rodriguez from the 10-day DL to the 60-day DL. Additionally, Texas announced that Tommy Joseph has cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Double-A Frisco.
Texas will turn to Colon, 44, to start tonight’s game in Oakland. The timeless veteran inked a minor league pact with the Rangers this offseason and delivered strong results in Spring Training, working to a 3.00 ERA with a 10-to-2 K/BB ratio in 18 innings of work. He’ll join Cole Hamels, Mike Minor, Doug Fister and Matt Moore in the Texas rotation as he looks to continue a career that, upon taking the hill tonight, will have spanned parts of 21 seasons.
Colon split the 2017 season between the Braves and the Twins, struggling badly in Atlanta before rebounding, to an extent, in Minnesota. “Big Sexy” turned in a 3.94 ERA and a 38-to-11 K/BB ratio through his first 10 starts with the Twins before fading and yielding 19 runs in his final 18 1/3 frames (over the life of five starts).
While the season, on the whole, wasn’t a good one for Colon, the popular righty is only a season removed from tossing 191 2/3 innings with a 3.43 ERA, 6.0 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9 with the 2016 Mets. In fact, from 2013-16 with the A’s and Mets, Colon averaged 195 innings per season with a 3.59 ERA, twice making the All-Star team (2013 and 2016) and twice pacing his league in BB/9 (2015-16). He’s one of many veteran arms the Rangers bought low on in the offseason in hopes of catching some lightning in a bottle.
For Colon, the opportunity is not without significance. He’s spoken many times about what it would mean to him to tally another four wins and move into the all-time lead for wins by a Dominican-born pitcher, overtaking Hall of Famer Juan Marichal. Colon is also less than two months away from his 45th birthday, and if he can keep his remarkable career going to that point, he’ll fulfill a promise to his late mother in which he told her he’d pitch until age 45.
Joseph, meanwhile, has struggled to get on base in each of his two big league seasons and saw his overall offensive output decline in 2017. In total, he’s a .247/.297/.460 hitter in 880 PAs, but as an OBP-challenged slugger with significant defensive limitations, his appeal around the league was unsurprisingly somewhat limited. He’ll give Texas some depth at first base, though with Joey Gallo and Ronald Guzman ahead of him on the depth chart at first base and Shin-Soo Choo slated for regular DH work, it might take an injury or two to create a clearer opportunity for Joseph to return to the Majors.