Sox Reportedly Sign Colon

It took five years, but the Red Sox have finally landed Bartolo Colon.

ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick reported Sunday the Sox have agreed to terms with Colon on a minor league contract. CBS-4 reporter Dan Roche reported later Sunday Colon would earn $1 million if he makes the Sox while ESPN's Buster Olney reported the deal includes major league performance bonuses.

Colon was one of baseball's best and most durable pitchers from 1998 through 2005, when he averaged 17 wins and 215 2/3 innings per season, recorded two 20-win campaigns and won one Cy Young Award. But his career has been in freefall since he was pulled from the decisive game of the AL Division Series against the Yankees after just one inning Oct. 10, 2005 with shoulder pain.

He has battled shoulder, elbow and knee woes, as well as the battle of the bulge, the last two seasons, during which he went 7-13 with a 5.90 ERA in just 155 2/3 innings for the Angels. He was left off the Angels' AL Division Series roster last fall and was not offered arbitration by the club after he filed for free agency.

Colon, who is listed at 5-foot-11 and 250 pounds, pitched winter ball in the Dominican Republic in hopes of generating interest in his services, but he remained unsigned even though his name was linked to teams such as the Royals, White Sox and Astros. In addition, the Mets were reportedly close to signing him but backed out after a look at his medical record.

Presuming he is healthy, Colon provides the Sox the rotation insurance they will need with the club hoping to schedule some in-season rest for most or all of its starters. Clay Buchholz will be limited to 180 innings while Jon Lester threw a career-high 153 innings last year between the minors and the majors. Tim Wakefield, 41, is coming off two injury-plagued seasons while Daisuke Matsuzaka, who worked on five days rest in Japan, wore down during the second half of last season.

Even Josh Beckett, who turns 28 this year and is coming off consecutive 200-inning seasons, said missing two weeks with a finger injury last May helped him remain strong enough to produce his brilliant postseason run.

The price for Colon was considerably higher the last time the Sox pursued him. After a 20-win season in 2002, the cost-cutting Expos put him on the market, but the Sox were unwilling to part with Casey Fossum and the White Sox ended up landing him in exchange for a package of three players that included Orlando Hernandez. Colon threw a career-high 242 innings for the White Sox before he signed a four-year deal with the Angels as a free agent.

Colon, who turns 35 in May, is 146-95 with a 4.10 ERA with the Indians, Expos, White Sox and Angels in a big league career that began in 1997. He was originally signed by the Indians as an undrafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 1993.


Diehard managing editor Jerry Beach can be reached at diehardmag@yahoo.com. To receive a free issue of Diehard, call 888-501-5752. To subscribe to Diehard or diehardmagazine.com, please CLICK HERE.

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