Detroit Tigers: False Bartolo Colon rumors disappointing amid pitching concerns
A report from Dominican Republic journalist Santiago Martinez turned heads Sunday night, as it stated the Detroit Tigers were poised to sign 45-year-old starting pitcher Bartolo Colon to a minor-league contract.
The Dominican newspaper claimed Bartolo Colon was on the verge of signing the minor-league pact and was slated to travel to the United States on Tuesday to finalize the contract. But these rumors of a big free-agent splash were quickly spurned by Detroit Tigers GM Al Avila, who told ESPN simply that “it’s not true.”
The news comes amid a rash of injuries to the Tigers starting pitching corps, both at the major-league level and in Triple-A Toledo. Four members of the projected Opening Day starting rotation are currently sidelined due to injury, including Michael Fulmer (Tommy John Surgery) and Matt Moore (knee surgery), who are both out for the season.
Jordan Zimmermann (flexor pronator strain) and Tyson Ross (ulnar nerve neuritis), have both started throwing programs but are still multiple weeks away from returning. For the Mud Hens, starting pitching prospects Beau Burrows and Kyle Funkhouser have missed extended time due to injury.
Considering the widespread injury epidemic plaguing the Tigers’ pitching depth, the rumors were quite logical and easily understandable. But despite the state of the team’s pitching, the whisperings still provided to be untrue.
The former Cy Young winner Colon spent all of 2018 with the Texas Rangers, posting a 7-12 record to go along with a 5.78 ERA. The right-hander gave up 32 home runs on the season but did toss a complete game against the Tigers on Jul. 6 at Comerica Park.
Even though a 14-26 record and a 6.13 ERA since 2016 isn’t awe-inspiring, the fan-favorite Colon has thrown over 300 innings the last two seasons and could’ve provided the Tigers great value in an innings-eating role amongst the injuries.
For now, lefty Ryan Carpenter will operate as the fourth starter, he’s slated to take the ball Wednesday against the Baltimore Orioles on short rest. Matt Boyd, Spencer Turnbull, and Daniel Norris still remain in the Tigers rotation ahead of Carpenter.
With injuries to nearly the entire rotation at the major-league level and concerns about depth from the minors, it would’ve been wise for the Tigers to add a pitcher with the ability to soak up innings like Colon.
The team must be convinced of a return in the near future for Zimmermann and Ross, or its inability to sign Colon or another veteran starter will prove costly as the on-field product continues to decline.