In an unorthodox move that goes against their offseason trend, the Oakland Athletics added a veteran free agent to their roster. Can the A’s actually do that?
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Oakland has agreed to terms with free agent right-hander Bartolo Colon. Hooray! No formal announcement has been made, though, as Colon must first pass his physical with the team. Tentatively, the contract will be a one-year deal, but the financial figures have not been made public.
Bringing in Colon, however, is a bit uncharacteristic for the Athletics, who have had a very busy and lengthy winter sale dealing away quality players. A’s management has already dealt two-fifths of its starting rotation this offseason in All-Stars Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez.
So having Colon aboard could bring experience to the rotation. Moreover, given that Oakland already has starting pitchers, Colon could add versatility to the overall pitching staff, working in the bullpen if need be.
Colon brings with him 14 years of major league experience, but had been in and out of baseball for a short spell before contributing to the New York Yankees last year. He posted an 8-10 record with a 4.00 ERA in 26 starts.
Despite pitching in only 48 total games for three different teams from 2006 to 2009—and missing the entire 2010 season—Colon impressively produced a respectable 1.29 WHIP to go with an average of 7.4 strikeouts per nine innings. Though he has obviously lost some zip on his fastball, the former AL Cy Young Award winner has improved his control: Last year, Colon collected a 3.38 K/BB ratio—the second-best rate of his career.
Colon is certainly not expected to stand at the front of the starting rotation, however, given the surplus of pitchers vying for a spot. Brandon McCarthy and Guillermo Moscoso return from wonderful first seasons in Oakland, and Brett Anderson, Dallas Braden and Josh Outman each will be back from injuries last year.
Tyson Ross and Graham Godfrey are ready to join the rotation at a full-time capacity after short stints with the big league club, and several others acquired through offseason trades will also compete for a starting role, including Tom Milone, Brad Peacock (from Washington Nationals) and Jarrod Parker (Arizona Diamondbacks). With such a crowded pitching staff, look for Colon to try to find the fifth spot in the rotation or serve as the long reliever out of the bullpen if necessary.
Because the A’s have a boatload of quality candidates for the rotation, signing Colon is a bit perplexing. And because of their affinity for gouging their payroll and roster, it’s odd that Oakland would trudge the bowels of the free agent market for a 38-year-old right-hander in Colon.
However, considering Oakland used 10 different starting pitchers last year as the result of myriad injuries suffered on the pitching staff, one more definitely couldn't hurt.
Besides, the A’s have shown that they are doing things backward this offseason. Instead of building a competitive team, they’re building for the future. Instead of signing their players to long-term contracts, they’re giving them away.
It’s been a head-scratching winter so far for Oakland. Nothing has been terribly exciting in terms of bolstering their roster for 2012. The signing of Colon only reinforces that sentiment.
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