What is Bartolo Colon’s value to the Mets?

Bartolo Colon is coming back to the New York Mets for at least one more season. Feel free to take a few seconds to cue up your favorite belly-jiggling, helmet-losing, bases-running GIF of Big Sexy before reading the rest of this post.

I’ll even give you one for free.

bartolo gif

I hope you enjoyed that $7.25 million version of the YMCA. ‘Tolo is back with the Mets, and what could be his final season will no doubt include many awesome Big Sexy moments, but what does the re-signing really mean for the Metropolitans?

The Mets are not a team that can be careless with their money, so spending over $7 million on Colon needs to have some real value. Jon Niese was traded away to the Pittsburgh Pirates, all but guaranteeing Colon the fifth-starter job until Zack Wheeler is recovered from Tommy John surgery. Behind Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz, all the Mets need out of their number-five starter is five or six non-terrible innings. Colon should be able to provide that. Having Colon around will also allow Wheeler to be eased back to full-time pitching, and could even allow the Mets to use his power arm out of the bullpen for a time.

Over the past two years with the Mets, Colon is 29-26 with a 4.13 ERA. He is no longer a power pitcher, and mostly fills up the strike zone, pitching to contact. Colon led the National League in hits allowed while posting the lowest walk rate in the league. His fastball and assortment of offspeed and breaking pitches can keep a hitter off balance on a good day. On a bad day, Colon’s soft offerings are knocked all over the park. It all evens out to close to six innings of respectable pitching every five days. Can’t ask for much more from the fifth starter in any rotation.

In his career, Colon has had nine lives, thanks to his ability to become a real pitcher, not a thrower. That’s why he’s still going strong even at the age of 42 going on 43. All of the information and wisdom Colon has picked up over the last 18 years in professional baseball are extremely valuable to a young, impressionable group of budding aces. Whatever Harvey and friends come up against in 2016, it’s likely Colon has the answer for what ails them. More than a fifth starter, Bartolo Colon was brought back to serve as a de facto bench/bullpen coach to the young stable of aces.

Any number of free-agent or internal options could have been utilized by the Mets for the first few months of the year before Wheeler’s return, and at a cheaper cost than $7.25 million. Bartolo Colon offers more value than six innings and three earned runs allowed every five days. He ranks second in terms of clubhouse value on the Mets roster behind David Wright. That, more than any type of pitching performance, is why the Mets could not afford to lose Bartolo Colon. The money spent could ultimately end up looking like a lot for the pitching the veteran will provide in his nineteenth season in the bigs, but rest assured, the Mets will get their value out of one more year of Bartolo Colon.

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