The Twins have declined a $5.5MM mutual option on veteran right-hander Alex Colome, tweets Dan Hayes of The Athletic. He’ll instead be paid a $1.25MM buyout and return to the open market in search of a new opportunity.
Colome, 32, joined the Twins after spending two years as the primary stopper for the division-rival White Sox. He got out to a dismal start in April and had a rough final month few weeks, but from May 1 through early September was generally strong (3.06 ERA, 56.5% ground-ball rate). Of course, the unsightly bookends on his season can’t be overlooked, and Colome’s lone year in a Twins uniform will culminate in 65 innings of 4.15 ERA ball with a 20% strikeout rate, a 7.9% walk rate and a 53.7% ground-ball rate.
While it’s certainly a respectable overall season for Colome, that 4.15 ERA is a far cry from the 2.27 mark he posted with the South Siders from 2019-20. That much shouldn’t come as a total surprise, as Colome’s excellent run with the Sox was largely fueled by a microscopic .211 average on balls in play that he never figured to repeat. Colome’s 20.9% strikeout rate, 9.1% walk rate and 47.2% grounder rate are all at least loosely in line with what he gave to the Twins, but this year’s .305 BABIP from Colome fell more in line with the league average than during his time with the Sox.
The Twins likely weren’t counting on Colome to replicate that low-2.00s ERA, rather seeing him as a potential bargain late in the offseason last winter. The fact that Colome settled for a one-year deal of this nature even after that shiny ERA and an AL-leading saves total from 2019-20 suggests that the rest of the market was similarly bearish on his chances of repeating the feat.
Colome will join the middle tiers of a free-agent market that lacks too many high-end options. Raisel Iglesias is in his own tier as the clear No. 1 reliever in free agency, with breakout righty Kendall Graveman perhaps leading the second tier of options. Colome didn’t find a multi-year deal last winter, so it’s possible he’ll ultimately sign another one-year pact this time around.
As for the Twins, they’ll be on the hunt for additional arms both in the rotation and in the bullpen. Closer Taylor Rogers saw his season end in July due to a strained ligament in his pitching hand, but if his health outlook is clear then he should return to hold down the fort in the late innings again. Veteran Tyler Duffey, flamethrowing 26-year-old Jorge Alcala and graybeard lefty Caleb Thielbar should all have roles in that late-inning mix next year, too, but the Twins figure to bring in at least one arm — if not multiple arms — in order to bolster that group.