Phillies: Bartolo Colon could help team in shortened season

Bartolo Colon #40 of the New York Yankees (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Bartolo Colon #40 of the New York Yankees (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images) /

Phillies manager Joe Girardi gave Bartolo Colon’s career a second chance in 2011 with the Yankees; could he offer a third chance in a shortened 2020 season?

Right-handed pitcher Bartolo Colon may have sat out the entire 2019 season, but the 47-year-old is not thinking about calling it quits just yet. With a likely shortened 2020 season — possibly around 80 games — the Philadelphia Phillies should consider being interested in signing the 21-year veteran.

Colon recently told ESPN that he hopes to pitch one more season, and if it were up to him, it would be with the Phillies’ rival New York Mets. Still, he says that if he had the opportunity, he “would play in any league; go anywhere,” adding: “If any major league team wants an old man, I’m available!”

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Colon has played with 11 different teams over the years, including the Cleveland Indians (1997-2002), Montreal Expos (2002), Chicago White Sox (2003, 2009), Anaheim/Los Angeles Angels (2004-07), Boston Red Sox (2008), New York Yankees (2011), Oakland Athletics (2012-13), New York Mets (2014-16), Atlanta Braves (2017), Minnesota Twins (2017) and Texas Rangers (2018).

Over his first 13 seasons, Colon had gone 153-103 with a 4.10 ERA across 328 games; as a 36-year-old with the White Sox in 2009, his 13th season, he had gone just 3-6 with a 4.19 ERA in 12 starts and was released in mid-September.

It wasn’t until now-Phillies and then-New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi gave him a second chance in January 2011. The signing extended his career at least eight more seasons; Colon would like a ninth and 22nd season overall in 2020.

“Signing with the Yankees was something special because they were the ones that brought me back, thanks to Tony Pena. They were the ones who gave me a chance,” Colon told ESPN. “When manager Joe Girardi called me into his office and said, ‘We have a role for you, but it would be as a reliever,’ I told Tony to tell him that I would accept whatever role they had for me, and Girardi said to go home and think about it overnight. And I said I did not have to think about it at all; all I wanted was to be in the major leagues, even as a bat boy.”

Could Girardi extend a similar helping hand to Colon nine years later with the Phillies? It’s possible.

The Phillies entered spring training with a largely undecided rotation outside of Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, and Jake Arrieta.

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Arrieta pitched in baseball’s last spring training game on March 12 and left with right shoulder stiffness. He should be healthy come a July start, but, could the Phillies afford to rely on him given his myriad of injuries during his red pinstripe tenure?

Other starting pitching candidates include Zach Eflin, Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez, Ranger Suarez, and top pitching prospect Spencer Howard. Again, a lot of question marks.

But, the Phillies would know what they could get out of Colon.

Girardi recently acknowledged that pitchers may have to go three or four innings at the start of the season, and that the Phillies have to think who they want to have for longer relief that will help them “get through all [of] this.”

Outside of non-roster invitee pitcher Francisco Liriano and the aforementioned starting pitcher candidates, the Phillies’ options are slim. Colon was willing to come back in any role for Girardi in 2011. The Phillies could explore using his veteran expertise in a long-relief role, for example. Or, even as a starting pitcher if they wanted to go that route.

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The four-time All-Star and 2005 CY Young Award winner is currently sitting at 247 career wins. He will already receive some Hall of Fame consideration, even if he never pitches again, but surely he would like to round that win total to 250, if possible.

If Colon helps the Phillies to at least three winning decisions in a 2020 season of around 80 games overall, signing him surely would be deemed the right decision.