The Braves have signed their second pitcher over the age of 40 in as many days. This time it’s the unflappable Bartolo Colon, bringing the man they call Big Sexy’s three-year run in Queens to an end. Colon made himself one of the most beloved figures in baseball during that time. He threw 588.2 innings as a Met, posting a 3.90 ERA, walking just 1.31 batters per nine innings, accumulating 8.3 WAR, and hitting one incredible home run. Thankfully, he will remain in the National League, and will continue to dazzle us with his hitting feats.
Much like R.A. Dickey, who they signed yesterday, Colon is being brought in by the Braves to soak up innings. He led the Mets in innings pitched during his time in Queens and shows no real signs of slowing down. The Braves used 16 starters last year, everyone from Julio Teheran to Lucas Harrell to Jhoulys Chacin to the artist formerly known as Fausto Carmona. Only three of them cleared the 100 IP mark. Teheran was legitimately good, Mike Foltynewicz was okay, and Matt Wisler, shall we say, has some things to work on.
Colon and Dickey give the Braves two rubber-armed veteran workhorses with which to work. Neither of them are good shots to make the All-Star team, but that’s fine for a team in transition like Atlanta. Colon is also widely respected as an excellent clubhouse presence, which will help a team filled with young players. He will likely not be the final older player whom the Braves add this winter, but he may be the most valuable of them.
There’s also something to be said for his novelty. Colon is a big jolly man with a propensity for the amusing. The Braves are opening a new stadium in 2017, and they’ll want to fill it as much as possible. Colon is a good way to put fans in seats, and to drum up online interest in a team that’s been quite bad of late. Yes, Freddie Freeman will still be here, and Dansby Swanson is the new, cool guy on campus. But it’s hard to beat Big Bart when it comes to watchability.
He’s fun. He’s a wise clubhouse leader. He’ll soak up innings, and he actually gives the team a chance to win. There’s no downside whatsoever to giving Colon $12.5 million to be a Brave for one year as the franchise builds back up to contention. This is a brilliant signing for Atlanta, and one that makes them a better team in ways that can’t be captured in our spreadsheets