August 7, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Bartolo Colon (21) returns to the dugout against the Los Angeles Angels during the seventh inning at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE

A's Welcome Back Bartolo With Open Arms

Well everyone was probably waiting to hear the news of the A’s resigning one of their veteran starting pitchers to a new contract, keeping them from hitting the free agent market.  But it wasn’t the one we were all expecting and hoping for.  In a rather surprising move, the A’s announced they signed Bartolo Colon to another 1 year contract, this time worth a base salary of $3 million plus incentives that could make the deal worth $5 million says Joe Stiglich of the Bay Area News Group.  Bartolo was suspended on August 22 for violating the MLB Performance Enhancing Drugs program when he tested positive for testosterone.  He still has 5 games remaining on that suspension that he’ll serve at the beginning of the 2013 season.

After the initial surprise of the deal wore off, it became very clear that this was another shrewd move by Billy Beane to help cover his bases by adding a surplus of depth.  Obviously if the A’s are not able to bring back Brandon McCarthy then that depth is a little less deep.  Colon can give the A’s some quality innings much like he did last season.  He made 24 stars last year, and pitched himself to a 10-9 record with a 3.43 ERA in 152.1 innings.  It remains to be seen how much of that quality was indeed aided by the testosterone, but even if he doesn’t pitch as well as he did in 2012 he’ll still be an innings eater and save the arms of the young starters.

According to Susan Slusser, this signing will have no impact on the A’s pursuit of Brandon McCarthy.  Initially it seemed like this could possibly be a bad sign that the A’s don’t believe they’ll be able to retain McCarthy, but Slusser reassured us that that isn’t the case.

So if the A’s do manage to keep McCarthy they’ll have quite the abundance of pitching.  There would be no doubt that McCarthy, Jarrod Parker, and Tommy Milone have solidified rotation spots in 2013, and Colon at this salary won’t be used as a long man or anything like that.  So that will likely leave 1 rotation spot available, and A.J. Griffin, Dan Straily, and perhaps even Travis Blackley to battle it out for that spot.  Perhaps Billy Beane and the A’s brass don’t have as much faith in Griffin and Straily to hold down rotation spots on a contending team as we may have thought.  Griffin did struggle down the stretch, and Straily was wildly inconsistent in his brief stint with the A’s.

It’s entirely possible that Beane could use one of those young starters as trade bait to either acquire a shortstop if the A’s fail to bring back Stephen Drew, or address a possible need at catcher if Derek Norris is deemed not quite ready for the bit time.  Deeper examination of that possibility will come at a later time, but I would prefer Griffin over Straily to be the one moved as it seems Straily has the edge in raw talent and potential.

Regardless of what happens in the coming days, weeks, and months, Billy Beane is laying the groundwork for a very interesting offseason as he attempts to build a roster that will go even further than this year’s team did.

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