Yanks sign Bartolo Colon to a minor league deal


Full-size spare included. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)

Update by Mike (1:13pm): Joel Sherman says Colon can become a free agent if he doesn’t make the team out of Spring Training. It’s a zero risk move, and if nothing else it’ll light a little fire under the asses of Sergio Mitre and whatever kids audition for a rotation spot in camp. Minor league deal with an opt out before the season … who cares? No complaints.

In seven winter ball starts, Colon struck out 28 and walked just six, posting a 1.93 ERA in 37.1 IP. Yankee bench coach Tony Pena was his manager, so you figure he had some input before they signed him.

Original Post (11:49am): FoxSports.com’s Jon Morosi reports that the Yankees have signed Bartolo Colon to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training. Buster Olney notes that Colon will earn $900,000 plus incentives if he makes the team. The two parties had been connected previously this winter, but I honestly didn’t think there was anything to it. There is little indication that Colon can handle a starting job in the majors at this point.

Colon last pitched more than 100 innings in 2005, the year he somehow won the Cy Young award. In the following four years he threw just 257 innings, with his high, 99.1, coming in 2007. His contract expired after that season and he found his way to the Red Sox in 2008. After starting the season in the minors he got the call in late May and pitched decently well in six starts. Then he hit the DL with a lower back injury and sat out until late September, when he returned to make one start. In 2009 he caught on with the White Sox, but again injuries derailed his season. He missed 44 days with knee troubles, returned for one start in July, and then missed the rest of the season with elbow troubles. His 4.19 ERA doesn’t quite reflect how badly he pitched: his FIP was 5.70, thanks mostly to a homer rate of 1.88 per nine.

Given Colon’s recent health history, which probably played into his complete absence in 2010, I don’t think the Yanks expect much from this. He wanted to make a comeback, and is — get this — in the best shape of his life. Since this is a minor league deal, it means little risk for the Yankees. The only downside is that they need to give him innings in the spring, which means that someone else will move to the minor league complex a bit earlier. (Or, I suppose, that Colon gets cut early.) It’s nice to see the Yankees going after reclamation projects as back of the rotation possibilities, but I find it nearly impossible to envision a scenario in which Colon can help the team.

Categories : Pitching


  1. This rules! It’s gonna be an old school showdown for that 4th/5th starter job!

  2. At least he won’t have to face A-Rod, I guess?

  3. Colon? He was great in 2003. Cashman doesn’t know what he’s doing.

    Am I doing this right?

    • Yanko says:

      Haha, you are getting it, Ben. Not too bad.

    • He’s collecting All-Stars*. 2003 All-Stars!

      Wokka Wokka

      *I know Colon wasn’t an AS in ’03, just roll with it.

    • Mister Delaware says:


    • Corky Romano says:

      Actually, you don’t know what you are doing. Cashman, who is trying to find a 5th starter without having to overpay for the Kevin Millwood’s of the world, gives a Minor league deal (one that pays peanuts if he makes the bigs) to a former all-star, Cy Young winner who wants to make a comeback so badly that he has worked himself into the best shape of his life. Guy pitches on Tony Pena’s team in the DR and is light’s out (made seven strong starts in the Dominican Winter League, allowing more than one earned run only twice — and never more than three earned — and finishing with a 1.93 ERA. He struck out 28 and walked six through 37.1 innings.) Please be quiet and go back to law school.

  4. mike says:

    this only cements the fact that Pettitte will not be back, atleast not in Spring Training. Adding depth in the minors in case Mitre/Nova dont pan out we have internal options before hitting the trade market.

    If Pettitte is still pitching it means he’ll comeback in mid season.

    I personally think he’s waiting to see if the Clemens PED trial will get postponed til after the season so it wont be a distraction to him during the season.

  5. Fair Weather Freddy says:

    Nothing wrong with taking a look at him. people are so quick to blast every move. No such thing as being open minded anymore I guess, at least not with this fan base.

    • JGS says:

      Meh, I’m ok with not being open minded about Bartolo Colon. The ridiculousness of the fanbase comes through when they start hemming and hawing over a minor league deal.

      Mark Prior has better odds of starting a regular season game for the 2011 Yankees than Colon.

    • Am I the only Kevin? says:

      When was the last time one of these “it’s only a minor league deal, don’t freak out” guys DIDN’T end up getting a bunch of starts?

  6. The Real JobaWockeeZ says:

    Call me crazy but I’d rather have Colon out there than Mitre.

    • Sweet Dick Willie says:

      This is a typical case of name infatuation.

      Colon didn’t pitch at all in 2010, and will be 38 this year.

      How many 38 year olds have come back to pitch effectively after taking an entire year off, especially those that hadn’t been effective in the prior 4 years that they did pitch?

      I don’t know the answer to that question, but I’ll bet the answer is ZERO.

      • MannyGee says:

        worth mentioning that Colon has “been pitching” in the Domincan League for the past two years… Not the California Penal League, but not like he was sitting on his couch at home *Cough, Roger Clemens, Cough*…

  7. BavarianYankee says:

    Colon? Meh. It’s just a minor league deal, so nothing wrong with that one.

  8. Accent Shallow says:

    I really hope the Yankees release him and he catches on with an AL team, just so A-Rod gets to face him on a semi-regular basis.

  9. Mister Delaware says:

    Chris Britton’s old jersey isn’t going to wear itself.

  10. Fair Weather Freddy says:

    Obviously, the scouts saw something they liked in his stint in Winter Ball to warrant taking a further look in ST. A very low risk move. Still would like to see them sign Ducsherer.

  11. T-Dubs says:

    He gets paid $900k to throw batting practice to A-Rod to keep his confidence up.

  12. steve (different one) says:

    I thought they signed him yesterday. Oh, that was Madrigal.

  13. Andrew says:

    Scranton could have quite the buffet-destroying pitching staff if it’s got Bartolo, Madrigal and Romulo all down there. I pity the clubhouse manager.

    • Accent Shallow says:

      I know rehabbing big leaguers typically tip well/pay for the clubhouse spread. I wonder if guys like Colon, trying to work their way back, do so.

      • Ted Nelson says:

        Part of it might depend on whether Colon is coming back because he really wants to play or because he’s spent all his money and needs the paycheck…

    • Fair Weather Freddy says:

      Well ROmulo is out of options so if he doesn’t make the team he is gone.

    • MannyGee says:

      Based on this alone, can we PLEEEEASE get Belliard signed to a minor league deal? That would be a WHOLE LOTTA cleared tables.

  14. Beantown Bombers Fan says:


  15. T-Long says:

    I guess Colon fits the, “Better than Mitre” job profile. Plus it’s a minor league so why not?

  16. Yea I said it ! says:

    Why don’t they just give that $900,000 to charity !

    • Steve H says:

      Because Charity has never won a Cy Young.

      Oh, and this is what baseball teams do. Spend pennies trying to catch lightining in a bottle. There’s about a 2% chance this deal works out, but it’s still worth that chance.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      They’re not on the hook for that money unless he makes the major league team: “Buster Olney notes that Colon will earn $900,000 plus incentives if he makes the team.”

      *If* he starts a few games at some point and doesn’t get crushed, $900,000 is fairly cheap.

      • AndrewYF says:

        And it’s not like the Yankees cut him a check for $900,000 as soon as he steps on the field. It’s a split minor-major league contract, where he earns a prorated salary for as long as he’s in the major leagues.

        • Danimal says:

          This is what I was thinking.

          People are talking like Colon *immediately* gets 900K as soon as he inks the contract. From what I see here, if he stinks it up and doesn’t make the team, he can ask for a release and we’ve put out chump change. Not a huge deal.

          If he works out, then great!

  17. Tank the Frank says:


    Oh wait… it’s not a big deal.

  18. Monteroisdinero says:

    “Colon was tough in winter ball”

    /Eduardo Nunez

  19. Andrew says:

    I wonder what beat writer will be the first to pen the “Bartolo is in the best shape of his life!” column?

  20. BavarianYankee says:

    the funniest thing about this is to read the stupid comments at MLBTR. That douchebags obviously have no clue what a minor league deal is. I mean they act like the Yankees think Colon is THE big solution and will be their opening day starter XD

    • BavarianYankee says:

      needless to say that most of them are Roid Sox fans.

    • Fair Weather Freddy says:

      Is that any different than what some fans on this forum and others act like anytime the Yanks sign someone? Even if its to a minor league deal?

    • Mister Delaware says:

      I told a non-Yankees fan friend it was a 2 year, $15MM deal just so he could start taunting me before telling him I was kidding, it was just a minor league deal. That’s always fun.

    • AndrewYF says:

      The real funniest thing is that the same people were praising the Red Sox for signing Colon, Penny, and Smoltz to MAJOR LEAGUE DEALS. And that these deals were SMARTER than the deal the Yankees gave Sabathia.

      They really have no shame.

    • David says:

      You are exactly right. The only bearing that this is likely to have on anything is more good Yankee business for a lucky weight loss clinic.

  21. Sportflame says:

    There were far more opportunities to sign better pitchers, for not much more than what Colon’s getting, like Young, Capuano, and Penny. Is Cashman being handcuffed with management or maybe, what was rumored could be true, leaving after this season.

    • JeffG says:

      I’m still scratching my head at why Duchscherer isn’t signed… that is low risk and he just wants a chance to start. I was hoping for that news today.

      • Ted Nelson says:

        A. He’s managed more than 28 MLB innings 1 of the last 3 seasons. He’s managed 56 one of the last four. If he’d take a minor league deal he’d have probably been signed months ago.

        B. Not being signed doesn’t just mean teams don’t want to sign him. It also means he doesn’t want to sign. It’s a market: teams are willing to pay less for his services than he’s willing to accept for his services; therefore, no transaction has taken place.

    • Young, Capuano, and Penny all signed ML deals though, right? There’s more risk there, which adds to the cost.

    • Steve (different one) says:

      This is incorrect.

      Colon has been signed for $0.

      If he makes the team, which means he actually showed something in ST, he gets his $900K.

      Penny got $3M, and that number is guaranteed.

      This is apples and oranges.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      Colon is signed to a minor league deal. I don’t know the exact terms of his contract of course, but $900,000 + incentives is his salary if he spends the entire season on the major league roster.

      A. The other guys you mention are guaranteed their money. Colon can be cut in spring training or stashed in AAA, and in those cases he’s probably making next to nothing. *If* Colon is back to MLB form, *then* he’ll get paid basically nothing in MLB terms to pitch. Those other guys are getting paid no matter what.

      B. There are still a lot of those guys out there in Millwood, Duchscherer, Garcia, Bonderman, etc. (unless any of those guys signed and I missed it). So, just because the Yankees passed/missed on Francis, Capuano, Young, and Penny doesn’t mean they won’t add a veteran. Could be Andy Pettitte, who should blow all those guys out of the water if he pitches in 2011. Or they could make a trade.

      • Reggie C. says:

        Or they could make a trade …

        How many trades for starting pitchers has Cashman ever made this “late” in the off-season? At this point i’d be shocked if it weren’t Mitre and Nova in the rotation on opening day.

        • Ted Nelson says:

          A. He traded for Roger Clemens on February 18th. It is currently January 26th.

          B. *Could* He could make a trade. Pettitte could re-sign. Millwood/Duchscherer/Garcia/Bonderman could be signed. Mitre could start. My comment came in the context of Sportflame being pissed that the Yankees didn’t sign Chris Young and Brad Penny. My point is that there are still comparable pitchers on the free agent market, so not signing those guys does not mean they won’t sign the cheap FA they want to.

          I don’t know why you’d be shocked if Mitre weren’t in the rotation to open the season. There are still some serviceable free agents and I hope the Yankees at least bring one in to compete with Mitre in spring training. I wouldn’t be shocked if Mitre is or isn’t in the opening rotation.

      • Am I the only Kevin? says:

        I said this above, but exactly when was the last time that one of these dreck WERE NOT brought up for 5 or so starts, thus converting their “low-risk MiL” deal into a big league guaranteed deal?


        Let’s face it, the Yanks have an extensive recent history of giving starts to journey men instead of their own minor leaguers, even giving starts to guys like Ponson over good prospects like Hughes. If Colon doesn’t completely crap the bed in ST and AA (read: 9.00 ERA) and get released, we will be treated to a few of his starts during the season instead of Phelps, Brackman, or someone else who is younger, cheaper, and equally as likely to throw a quality start. This deal is as good a guaranteed – the only benefit being they can stash him a AAA for a few weeks until a starter is needed.

        • Am I the only Kevin? says:

          Whoops. Let me edit now to say that, per the update, they cannot even stash him in the minors for a few weeks.

          Man, I hope he bombs in ST because I have nightmares of him getting a bunch of starts in May that will make us relive the days of 2009 Wang.

        • Ted Nelson says:

          That’s total speculation. He could just as easily be cut in spring training.

          Since none of Noesi, Brackman, Phelps, or Mitchell has a full season at AAA under their belt it’s not a given they’d be ready for an early season start. If they are clearly better options than Colon, I really don’t think the Yankees will screw them just out of spite.

          Hughes did start 13 games in 2007, 8 games in 2008, and 7 games in 2009… So your comment there is fairly baseless and without context.

          • Am I the only Kevin? says:

            You say speculation, I say informed opinion.

            As for Hughes, you are forgetting that Ranser and Ponson got a ton of starts in 2008 while Hughes futzed around in AAA throwing darts. Same thing happened in 2009. For 2010, we got Mitre and Mosley instead of Nova. We also had Kennedy back in 2008.

            I don’t think they screw them out of spite, just that Cashman really prefers to go with retreads as opposed to youth in the rotation. Me? I’d do just the opposite. I’d rather give a young guy putting up decent numbers at AAA 5 -10 starts to see what pans out instead of giving a $2m to Aaron Mitre or Sir Sidney Redding to do the same thing.

            • Steve (different one) says:

              As for Hughes, you are forgetting that Ranser and Ponson got a ton of starts in 2008 while Hughes futzed around in AAA throwing darts.

              What on earth are you talking about?

              Hughes BROKE CAMP in 2008 in the BIG LEAGUE starting rotation. He then proceeded to break some ribs and go on the DL.

              Hughes threw 35 innings in the minors in 2008 with a 4.79 ERA (darts!), which I think it is same to assume were rehab assignments.

  22. Lincoln says:

    I wasnt expecting this move. I was however thinking that a Millwood and/or Duchscherer signing would be inevitable. I wonder if there is still a chance of either one of those two being signed.

    • Mister Delaware says:

      That’s about the online downside here is if Duchshererererer (or Bonderman, who I still like) sees this as more competition and decides to go elsewhere. Although, I guess if you aren’t confident you can beat out Bartolo Colon …

      • Mister Delaware says:

        (The online downside? Only. The only downside.)

        • Lincoln says:

          You’d go for Bonderman over Millwood? Doesnt Bonderman have a worse history for ERA and Injury concerns than Millwood?

          • Danimal says:

            Bonderman does not pass the BTM test. I liked the article that was posted on RAB yesterday or the day before about Mitre.

            you show a stat line without a name and don’t bring as many biases. Yeah, I get it… he’s a journeyman. Cliff Lee went down to the minors at age 28. Go figure.

            Mitre isn’t that bad. Bonderman… he’s ok, but not a huge improvement.

            I definitely would have considered someone like Young or Garcia.

          • Ted Nelson says:

            Also depends on contract demands. And since Bonderman’s 28 there may be a chance for his health/stuff to improve.

            All else equal I’d take Millwood I think, but who knows.

    • Andrew says:

      Wouldn’t any of Millwood, Bonderman and Duchscherer be likely to get a low-base guaranteed ML deal? I don’t think a minor league contract should threaten them. It should more threaten the likes of Mitre, Nova, etc. who are still hoping to have a shot at pitching their way into a bigger role.

      If any of those 3 FAs are in conversations with the Yankees, they will be getting better deals than Bartolo, so I don’t think they’re connected.

  23. Kiersten says:

    I would have rather taken a shot on Pedro?

  24. Joe says:

    B-ref has his weight listed as 185. Just thought everyone would like to know.

  25. Matt says:

    At least this is better than signing Sideny Ponson again.

  26. NJYankeeFan says:

    I’m staying optimistic that by May 15th, out starting rotation will be CC, Hughes, Burnett, Pettite and Aceves/Nova (depending on who has the hot hand) which considering the lineup and bullpen should be at least as good and probably better than the 2010 version.

  27. Reggie C. says:

    I wonder if Colon fits Cashman’s “we’re one pitcher away from being contenders” idea…

    What a joke move.

  28. Monteroisdinero says:

    Veteran pitchers going to Scranton to give Montero more major league savvy before he comes up in May?

    /a reach I know.

  29. Brazilian Fan says:

    WORLD SERIES BABY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  30. Regis says:

    Typical low risk/low upside signing.

  31. Danimal says:

    Remember 2005? The Aaron Small, Shawn Chacon show? We can still win lots of games with an upstart rotation. We just gotta put up more runs than the other guy! Camman Tex, I hope Kevin Long got ya figured out early.

    Aaaand, if we can swing a deal at the deadline, or pick up Andy as our ASB addition, we’re set!

  32. EndlessMike says:

    I liked how Cashman said he wanted to stay pat going into this season. Yankees fans especially in this blog in 2008 when everybody wanted Kennedy,Hughes, Joba for the rotation taking a big risk which I was called a troll for syaying it was crazy. We all know what happened in 2008 right?

    I only remeber that because of those stupid ‘Save The Big Three’ shirts.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      The Yankees won 89 games in 2008. It wasn’t exactly a disaster. They also won the WS the next season.

    • Steve (different one) says:

      I liked how Cashman said he wanted to stay pat going into this season.

      I like how you completely made this up.

      Even yesterday, the first thing Cashman said was that he needed another starter.

      Plus the whole offering Cliff Lee a boatload of money thing.

      So, if “Cashman said he wanted to stand pat” really means “Cashman keeps saying the Yankees need to add a starter” then yes, I agree with you.

    • pete says:

      The yankees won 89 games that year, despite losing 2/3 of a season of Wang, half a season of Posada, a month of A-Rod, etc.

      Hughes got hurt, Joba was great and then got hurt, Kennedy sucked. And still, had they not lost the players they lost to injury, they probably would have made the playoffs.

  33. JoeyH says:

    Perhaps Pedro next?

  34. bobmac says:


  35. dkidd in alienating los angeles says:

    sterling after a bartolo k:

    you’ve just endured a colonoscopy!!!

  36. Yankeefan91 Arod Fan says:

    I like the signing and im really gonna cheer for him in spring training to make the team i was really impress with his location watching him pitch in winterball his fastball not the sane but if he can locate hell be very affective.

  37. BronxByte says:

    Chamberlain will love this. I will look like he actually showed up at Tampa in shape compared to Colon.

  38. UnNamed Yankee Source says:

    Get a load of this:

    Per MLB.com – http://mlb.mlb.com/team/player....._id=112526

    Bartolo Colon Weighs 245 lbs.

    I think the order of those numbers are incorrect.

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