SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Seemingly ageless right-hander Bartolo Colon, a free agent again this offseason, is still on the Mets' radar, Sandy Alderson said on Wednesday.
The club's general manager added that re-signing Colon for a fourth season in New York will revolve around several factors, including the health of the three young starting pitchers who had surgery this past season, and how the Mets allocate their offseason budget. The Mets are also trying to re-sign their other departing free agents, Yoenis Céspedes and Neil Walker.
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"They don't seem to be related -- Walker, Cespedes and Colon," Alderson said during the second day of the General Managers Meetings. "Except financially."
Like his comment about Cespedes on Tuesday, Alderson said that given the circumstances, he'd like to have Colon back.
Matt Harvey (thoracic outlet syndrome), Jacob deGrom (ulnar nerve, right elbow) and Steven Matz (bone spurs, left elbow) are all in different phases of rehab, although Alderson said neither of the three have gone behind light or long toss. Harvey, who underwent surgery on July 18, should be farther along than the other two, who both had their surgeries near the end of the season.
All of them are projected to be ready when pitchers report to Spring Training in February. If not, the Mets will need Colon's help. The 43-year-old Dominican made 33 starts this past season -- 95 total in his three seasons with the Mets. He was effective this year, going 15-8 with a 3.43 ERA.
His 233 career victories are the most among active pitchers and place him only 10 behind Juan Marichal for the most among pitchers from the Dominican Republic in Major League history. Dennis Martinez, a Nicaraguan, has the most wins among Latino pitchers at 245.
For that reason alone, Alderson said he believes Colon will be looking for a job as a starter this offseason rather than as a reliever.
"How many wins is he behind Marichal?" Alderson asked. "I think he's going to want to start. He's not going to get that many wins as a reliever."
Colon could slip back into a relief role for the Mets if the starting staff is healthy. He was a decent reliever for the club during the 2015 postseason, making seven appearances, three in the World Series.
Yet, there are too many variables right now for Alderson to make a determination.
"You're asking me a lot of questions about Bartolo and I don't have the answers," Alderson said. "I've had a brief conversation with the agent, and my sense is that if you wait a week or 10 days or two weeks, we'll know a lot more about the pitching market and we'll know a lot more about our situation. Let's wait a couple of weeks and see where we are."
Alderson faced a similar circumstance with Colon last offseason. Colon eventually signed a one-year, $7.25 million contract, a decrease of $3.25 million from the 2015 season.
The free-agent market for starters this time around is thin, with Rich Hill, Jeremy Hellickson and Jason Hammel at the top of that group.