You had to see it coming, because someone the magnitude of Bartolo Colon doesn’t often catch you off guard. Except maybe when he’s hitting home runs.
Bartolo Colon, baseball’s 44-year-old fan favorite, was designated for assignment on Thursday by the Atlanta Braves after a disappointing season that’s seen his ERA plump up to 8.14. Colon, playing in his 21st big-league season, is 2-8 this season. He’s pitched only twice in June, including Wednesday night when he gave up six runs in four innings against the San Diego Padres in a 7-4 loss.
Even though the move makes every bit of rational baseball sense, people on the internet were no less disappointed. Colon is baseball’s social-media folk hero — a man who’s larger-than-life legend and goofy moments are replayed time and time again in GIFs. There’s the homer, the belly jiggle, the behind-the-back toss to first, the way his helmet so often falls off his head when he swings.
That’s why the bigger question here is about what’s next for Colon? At his age with that ERA, is it time to just hang it up? Or will he try to surprise us all once again?
Getting designated for assignment means the Braves and Colon have a few options. The Braves could trade him or release him, the two most common outcomes when a player is DFA’d. If Colon clears waivers, he could also choose to accept a minor-league assignment with the Braves.
If Colon retires, he’ll finish his career with a 235-170 record and a 4.02 ERA in 3,235 innings, plus four All-Star appearances and the 2005 Cy Young award he won with the Los Angeles Angels.
But you have to wonder if a team like the Mets, for which Colon played the previous three seasons and was actually an All-Star in 2016, have enough injuries to want to bring back Bartolo. Or if another contender might want Bartolo’s experience and clubhouse presence — his Braves ERA be damned — as we head into July.
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