Twins sign veteran Colon to Minors deal
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins, who have been short on pitching depth, added veteran right-hander Bartolo Colon on a Minor League deal on Friday. He'll report to Triple-A Rochester.
The 44-year-old went 2-8 with an 8.14 ERA in 13 starts with the Braves before being designated for assignment on June 29 and getting released on Tuesday. But Colon was effective with the Mets last year, going 15-8 with a 3.43 ERA in 34 appearances, including 33 starts, while being named an All-Star for the fourth time in his career.
"That's one of the things that attracted us to him," Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey said. "He's one of those guys who's reinvented himself a number of times throughout his career. He was a guy who relied almost exclusively on velocity at a much younger age and has now learned how to pitch more effectively at a lower velocity rate."
Colon brings a wealth of experience to Minnesota, which would be his 10th organization if he reaches the Majors, pitching in 20 seasons with a career 4.02 ERA and 2,407 strikeouts in 3,235 1/3 innings. He won a Cy Young Award with the Angels in 2005, and has enjoyed a late-career resurgence, posting a combined 3.88 ERA over his last seven seasons since missing the 2010 campaign with shoulder and elbow issues.
Colon relies heavily on his fastball, throwing 82.1 percent of the time this year, and 89.5 percent of the time last year. He also mixes in an occasional slider and changeup. His fastball velocity averaged 87.9 mph in each of the last two seasons. Colon is regarded for his pinpoint control, leading the National League in fewest walks per nine innings in '15 and '16, but that rate nearly doubled this year, while also seeing an uptick in homers allowed. His last start came on June 28, when he gave up six runs over four innings against the Padres.
"We felt like they were some signals that the stuff was similar to what it had been in years past, but maybe a little bit unlucky," said Falvey, referencing his low strand rate and high batting average on balls in play. "I wouldn't necessarily say his control and command have gone back, it's just that he's nibbling a little bit more. We talked with his agent, and he felt like there were some things he was doing that were uncharacteristic for him, from a command standpoint."
The Twins have already used 27 pitchers this season, including 10 starting pitchers. Left-hander Hector Santiago is currently on the 10-day disabled list with a back strain, forcing 23-year-old prospect Felix Jorge to join the rotation from Double-A Chattanooga.
The Twins are working with Colon on when he'll make his next start, as he's been throwing in the Dominican Republic since getting designated and the All-Star break is looming. But Colon made it clear he believes he still has plenty left in the tank.
"I know he wants to pitch more than just the rest of this year," Falvey said. "He loves baseball. That's been relayed to us for sure. He's looking at this as an opportunity. He had a bump early in the year, but he's ready to get back on the horse."
Colon, who made his Major League debut in 1997, has been in the league so long that Twins manager Paul Molitor went 2-for-8 against him, including 1-for-3 facing Colon in his final career game on Sept. 27, 1998.
"You know he's been around a long time if I faced him," Molitor said. "He's found a way. I know it was a little rough down there early in the season, but he's the same guy he's been the last four, five, six years, and we'll see what he can bring to the table."