New York Yankees, Bartolo Colon could be an ideal fit in free agency

This story was originally published on Outside Pitch MLB

Just like in recent seasons, New York Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman doesn’t figure to be a huge factor in free agency. While it’s unlikely he won’t give out any Major League deals like last year, he also won’t be as active as he was three years ago.

An area that has plagued the Yankees for the second consecutive season has been the starting rotation. Heading into 2017, Masahiro TanakaCC Sabathia, and Michael Pineda are the only sure bets.

With Nathan Eovaldi sidelined for the entirety of next year, there will be two slots open for competition. Youngsters Bryan MitchellLuis Cessa, and Chad Green all are expected to fight for the final two spots, while prospects James Kaprielian and Chance Adams have an outside shot as well.

While the organization is in a full-fledged youth movement, it may be wise to bring a veteran starter to help the rotation.

And that’s where Bartolo Colon comes into play.

Now, it’s hard to run down how Colon’s career numbers would translate to Yankee Stadium, simply because he’s a completely different pitcher than he was in the early 2000s. Long gone are the days of a blazing fastball and in its place is a pitcher that can paint corners and use a large arsenal of pitches to his advantage.

Pitching for the crosstown-rival New York Mets for the last three seasons, Colon has been as effective as he’s ever been.

From 2014-2016, the 43-year old has started in at least 31 games in each season and has pitched in 202.1, 194.2, and 191.2 innings, respectively. While he’s allowed more hits (635) than innings pitched (588.2), Colon’s collective ERA sits at 3.89 while he hasn’t walked more than 1.5 batters per nine innings over that span.

So where does the 2016 All-Star fit in?

To start, he’s an innings eater. Outside of Tanaka — who was a third of an inning shy of 200 — no Yankees starter threw more innings than Colon last season. As 200+ innings pitchers get rarer by the year, Colon is someone who can come close to that feat. That alone would be worth the investment.

The case can be made, however, that the final two rotation spots deserve to go to the youngsters in the organization. And after last year’s performances, any two of Mitchell, Cessa, and Green would be decent options in the fourth and fifth slots. But there’s always a chance that these Baby Bombers struggle, which would hurt the starting staff even further. Instead of relying on them in 2017, they may be better off used for depth purposes.

There’s also the checkered injury history of the aforementioned sure bets. At 36-years old, Sabathia had his best season in recent memory. But his knee issues have plagued him over the last number of years and there’s always the chance it can come back and haunt him. While Pineda has flashed immense potential since putting on pinstripes, he, too, fights with fatigue and shoulder problems. And of course, there’s the Yankees ace in Tanaka. Although he’s reinvented himself since his rookie campaign, his elbow is a ticking time bomb. Despite being well over 40, Colon has stayed relatively healthy and can provide a boost by pitching every fifth day.

Last, but certainly not least, is Colon’s experience in the Big Apple. While many may disregard it, playing in New York can’t be replicated in any other city. Not only has Colon spent the last three years in Queens, but he also spent 2011 pitching in pinstripes. In his lone season with the Yankees, he went 8-10 with an even 4.00 ERA.

As a free agent, there will be many teams — especially the Mets — that will be vying for Colon’s services.

But the Yankees, too, have a hole that needs to be filled. And while there are more intriguing names out there, the man known as “Big Sexy” may be an ideal fit.

Dan Federico is a writer for The Bronx Chronicle. You can follow and interact with him on Twitter or contact him via email here

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