SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Mets fans may have to brace for a world without their favorite cult hero Bartolo Colon, whose memorable tenure in Flushing may come to an end.
Though the Mets have some interest in bringing back the durable righthander, it’s possible that the 43-year-old marvel could command a two-year deal after his 2016 All-Star season. It’s unlikely that the Mets would make a two-year commitment.
Also, sources said Colon will not receive a $17.2-million qualifying offer from the Mets by Monday afternoon’s deadline, meaning other teams could sign him without losing a draft pick as compensation. That will only increase interest in Colon, who has defied his age and mockery for his pudgy body to become one of baseball’s most reliable arms.
Though Colon’s first career home run drew more attention, he turned in his best pitching season since 2013, when he was an All-Star with the A’s.
Colon went 15-8 with a 3.43 ERA in 191 2⁄3 innings, bolstering the rotation in a season in which he was expected to end the year in the bullpen.
Once again, Colon was one of baseball’s best bargains. Only 14 pitchers made at least 33 starts and logged at least 190 innings in 2016. Within that group, Colon’s ERA ranked sixth, ahead of Ian Kennedy and David Price.
Colon signed a one-year, $7.25-million deal last December when the Mets made retaining him a priority. But the emergence of rookies Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo lessens the need for an insurance policy such as Colon, even with Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler returning from injury.
In three seasons with the Mets, Colon proved to be the most durable member of a starting rotation slammed by injuries. He went 44-34 with a 3.90 ERA while averaging 196 innings per year.
Colon, who turns 44 in May, will be chasing history in 2017. He has 233 career victories, only 11 wins away from passing Hall of Famer Juan Marichal for the most among pitchers born in the Dominican Republic.