Atlanta Signs a Pair of Aging Arms
Last year, the Atlanta Braves had one of the youngest starting pitching staffs in all of baseball, averaging 24.2 years of age. The five starters who tallied the most starts for the Braves last year were 25-year-old ace Julio Teheran, 23-year-old Matt Wisler, 24-year-old Mike Foltynewicz, 24-year-old Aaron Blair and 25-year-old Williams Perez. The only other pitcher to start 10 or more games last season was 31-year-old Bud Norris, who was traded away to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the middle of the season.
This off-season, the Braves appear to be trying to double the average age of the staff all in one shot. This week they signed 42-year-old knuckleballer R.A. Dickey to a one-year, $7.5 million contract, and on Thursday, they inked former New York Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon, now 43 years old, to a one-year, $12.5 million deal.
The @Braves agree to a one-year deal with Bartolo Colon.
And he doesn't need to throw to pick you off.
(via @MLBGIFs) pic.twitter.com/9EcNSh4NGN
â€” Baseball Tonight (@BBTN) November 11, 2016
If Dickey and Colon both make the Atlanta starting rotation (they are being paid to, after all), they will make a little history.
The 2017 @Braves could become just the second NL club to have TWO pitchers age 42 or older make a start. The other?
The 1981 Braves! pic.twitter.com/EALdnKcjJ6
â€” MLB Stat of the Day (@MLBStatoftheDay) November 11, 2016
Both pitchers were the oldest in their respective leagues last season, and they have now joined forces on what was the youngest starting rotation in baseball. The 2016 Hot Stove has gotten off to a weird start.
Even though both pitchers are considered "over the hill" in today's game, Dickey and Colon continue to be reasonably productive. They are only signed for 2016 and aren't blocking a rotation spot from any young Atlanta hurler who may emerge this season. If Colon and Dickey can put up decent numbers, each pitcher would have some value at the trade deadline.
Dickey -- the 2012 National League Cy Young winner when he went 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA for the Mets -- made 29 starts last year and went 10-15 with a 4.46 ERA and 5.03 FIP. The ERA and FIP were his highest since 2008, before he was a full-time starting pitcher. He also failed to pitch more than 200 innings (169 2/3 last year) for the first time since 2010.
Of course, the dude is 42.
As for Colon, he is of the most colorful characters in the game.
Goodbye, Sweet Prince. #BartoloColon #LGM pic.twitter.com/tnBu6VweTL
â€” Dennis O'Mara (@dennisromara) November 11, 2016
While he is known more for making funny highlights, Colon had another excellent season for the Mets in 2016. In 33 starts and 191 2/3 innings pitched, he went 15-8 with a 3.43 ERA and 3.99 FIP, putting up 2.9 fWAR.
At age 43, Colon also came into his own as an offensive weapon.
That was his first career home run, by the way.
The Braves are still rebuilding, but even a rebuilding team has to have a couple of steady, veteran hands to eat innings and keep the youngsters on track. In Dickey and Colon, you couldn't ask for two steadier ones. And they may present the Braves with an opportunity to flip them for prospects at the deadline.