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Offseason Lowdown

Lowdown: Bartolo Rides Again

by David Shovein
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Bartolo Rides Again

The first weekend of February has come and gone and many of the top free agents are still waiting to find out where (and if?) they’ll be reporting to spring training.

While the hot stove action continues to trudge slowly along, the Rangers made the biggest news of the weekend. Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com had reported on Saturday that the Rangers were closing in on signing Bartolo Colon to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. That deal became official on Sunday.

The rotund 44-year-old right-hander has long been a fan favorite due to to his svelte physique, his bulldog mentality on the hill and for the childlike joy and passion with which he has always approached the game.

He’s also just an incredibly fascinating human being in general. Consider this, in order to build his arm strength while growing up, he threw rocks at coconuts and mangos in his native Dominican Republic. He also used to ride his beloved donkey, Pancho, to the sandlot to play ball.

If you’re searching for Colon in the off-season, you can find him on Friday nights playing in a softball league in his native country. He does so only as a hitter, to show off his impressive power at the dish.

Colon leads all active MLB pitchers with 240 career victories. He has accumulated those wins over 20 seasons at the big league level and pitching for 10 different clubs (Indians, Expos, White Sox, Angels, Red Sox, Yankees, Athletics, Mets, Braves and Twins). Despite pitching poorly for much of the 2017 season, he still managed to secure seven victories.

While pitching his home games in the hitter’s paradise that is Globe Life Park in Arlington seems like it would be a death sentence to his career, Colon isn’t ready to hang ‘em up just yet. There’s also a very real chance that he could secure a spot in the club’s Opening Day rotation with a strong showing in spring training.

As currently constructed, it looks as though Cole Hamels, Mike Minor and Matt Moore are locked into the first three spots in the Rangers’ rotation. Doug Fister was signed to a big league deal at the end of November and would appear to have the fourth spot in the rotation sewn up.

The potential opening comes with the fifth spot. Martin Perez may not be ready for the start of the regular season due to an offseason incident involving a bull. The team has toyed with the idea of Matt Bush in the starting rotation, and he’ll get stretched out this spring to see how things go. If Colon pitches well in Arizona though, he could wind up with the big league club to start the 2018 season.

And let’s be honest, Bartolo Colon being on a major league team to begin another season makes the world a slightly better place.

Quick Hits: Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported that the Cardinals aren’t likely to sign free agent third baseman Mike Moustakas unless his price drops considerably… The Orioles have expressed interest in Drew Hutchison as they continue to seek upgrades to their starting rotation… Ken Giles defeated the Astros in arbitration and will earn $4.6 million this season… Adeiny Hechavarria beat the Rays and will earn $5.9 million… Roberto Osuna lost his hearing against the Jays and will earn $5.3 million… Justin Bour won his case against the Marlins and will earn $3.4 million… J.T. Realmuto lost his case and will take home $2.9 million… According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Mets could have interest in Alex Cobb or Lance Lynn if their prices fall… Rosenthal added that the Mets aren’t likely to bring back Neil Walker and instead may consider Eduardo Nunez or Todd Frazier to bolster their infield if their prices drop… Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said that the club is unlikely to add Yu Darvish or any other high-priced free agent starting pitcher… The Rangers have discussed a potential new contract with Elvis Andrus who has the option to opt out of his current contract after the 2018 season.

David Shovein

Dave Shovein is a baseball writer for NBC Sports Edge. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveShovein.