The Atlanta Braves, who are in somewhat of a transition period, have signed two veteran starting pitchers. Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon will be pitching in the new SunTrust Park Stadium in Cobb County next season. While neither are top of the line pitchers anymore, both can eat a ton of innings and will act as a veteran presence in the clubhouse. Both pitchers were signed to one-year deals.
The Braves signed Dickey to a one-year, $8MM guaranteed contract on Thursday. Dickey is part of Atlanta’s strategy of using short contracted pitchers to fill innings amidst their rebuild. The 42-year-old has been a consistent workhorse the past six season, surpassing 200 innings pitched from 2011 to 2015.
Dickey won the Cy Young award with the Mets in 2012, the first knuckleballer to do so. He was then traded to the Blue Jays that offseason for a package that included Noah Syndergaard. Dickey was unable to repeat his dominant season with the Blue Jays but worked to a respectable 3.95 ERA over his first three seasons across the border.
Last year was a disappointing season, however, as he finished 10-15 with a 4.46 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP in 169.2 innings pitched. He decreased in effectiveness in nearly all aspects of his game, most notably his ability to keep the ball in the yard, giving up 1.49 homers per nine innings. The Braves won’t expect Dickey to do what he did in 2012, but if he can provide anywhere near 200 innings, the front office will see this signing as a success.
Joining Dickey in the rotation is Big Sexy himself, Bartolo Colon. Colon has been with the Mets the past two seasons, where he quickly became a fan favorite due to his ability to defy his age and body type, as well as his eventful plate appearances. The deal brings Colon to the Braves for one year, where he will earn $12.5MM, his highest salary since 2007. He was consistent in New York, hovering right around the 200 inning mark both seasons.
The 43-year-old has been an interesting story the past five seasons, as he has successfully rekindled his career. He has looked like a top of the line starter at various points in his career in his late 20’s and early 30’s. However, he fell off the map throughout his 30’s. Bouncing around the league with stops in Boston, Chicago, New York, and Oakland, it was his 2011 season with the Yankees that showed signs of him turning it around.
Colon surpassed 150 innings for the first time since 2005 in 2011 and hasn’t looked back since. In 2013 he finished sixth in Cy Young voting after going 18-6 with a 2.65 ERA in Oakland. Like Dickey, the Braves will hope that Colon can continue his late-career effectiveness, and give Atlanta at least 200 innings.
With a couple of signings like this comes a few fun fact that you don’t see often in sports;
The combined age between the two is 85 years old.
The last NL team to have two pitchers age 42 or over start a game were the 1981 Braves with Gaylord Perry and knuckleballer Phil Niekro.
Bartolo Colon made his professional baseball debut in 1994, the year Braves’ shortstop Dansby Swanson was born.
Colon made his MLB debut the day Turner Field opened. He will now pitch in the Braves new stadium in its first year.
These deals aren’t season-changing, and the Braves still aren’t expecting to compete in the NL East this year. But these deals could prove to be very important for the future. They allow the Braves to eat innings without giving up decent prospects. Furthermore, having two guys like Dickey and Colon in a clubhouse will do wonders for young, developing pitchers. As it stands now, the two will be joining a rotation consisting of Julio Teheran, Mike Foltynewicz, and Matt Wisler.