Bartolo Colon is headed to Texas Rangers spring training next week after agreeing to a minor league deal that provides him with a chance to extend a major league career that started in 1997.
Colon, 44, will earn a base salary of $1.75 million if he makes the Rangers’ roster. To do that, he must unseat one of the five projected starters — Cole Hamels, Martin Perez, Doug Fister, Matt Moore and Mike Minor.
That doesn’t seem all that far-fetched.
“Bartolo brings a track record of durability and success in the major leagues,” general manager Jon Daniels. “He pounds the strike zone and provides quality competition for our rotation. Welcome to Texas, Big Sexy!”
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Within that statement are two reasons Colon, who can earn another $1.25 million in incentives, might not be a roster long shot — durability and strikes. Here’s a third: He’s right-handed.
A stated goal for the Rangers’ pitching staff in 2018 is to throw more strikes and walk fewer batters, two things they did poorly last season. No team struck out fewer batters than the Rangers, who had only 1,107, and their 559 walks were the third-most in the American League.
Colon is a noted strike-thrower. He gives up plenty of hits as a result, but he walked only 35 in 143 innings last season in 28 starts.
At age 44, he continues to avoid the disabled list and could provide innings to rotation that is trying to convert Minor back to starting, something he hasn’t done because of injuries since 2014, and could be without Perez (broken right elbow) for the first month of the season.
The Rangers have four lefties in their current rotation plans, with Fister the only righty. Another righty would keep the Rangers from starting four consecutive lefties and keep opponents’ platoon players from getting comfortable.