ST. LOUIS — Bartolo Colon engineered a memorable late-career run by perfecting the art of pumping well-spotted fastballs. But it turns out that the 44-year-old righthander still has a decent changeup, too.
Colon is headed back to New York — but to Rochester, home of the Twins’ Triple-A affiliate, not Flushing.
In a surprise, he spurned the overtures of the Mets to sign a minor-league deal with the Twins, who announced the move last night with a tweet referencing Colon by the nickname he earned during his colorful tenure at Citi Field: Big Sexy.
According to a source, the Mets were caught off guard by the decision, especially given that he was told he’d be moved into the back end of the starting rotation when ready. But Colon seemed to have concern about being bumped into the bullpen once the Mets’ injured starters got healthy. “We made a strong effort to re-sign Bartolo,” general manager Sandy Alderson said in a statement issued by the club. “But he decided to go elsewhere.”
Mets officials were in touch with Colon’s representatives Thursday and Friday and had expected to touch base again Saturday. But Colon instead joined his 10th organization in a 20-year career in which he won the AL Cy Young Award in 2005.
From 2014-16, he went 44-34 with a 3.90 ERA with the Mets, becoming a fan favorite and key veteran presence. It’s part of the reason the Mets reached out to Colon on Thursday when he officially became a free agent, cut loose by the Braves after going 2-8 with an 8.14 ERA in 13 starts.
The Twins, who are strong contenders in the AL Central and wild-card races, hope he can bounce back away from hitter-friendly SunTrust Park. The Twins have to pay Colon only the prorated MLB minimum salary, and the Braves are responsible for the remainder of the one-year, $12.5-million deal Colon signed in the offseason.