With the surprise signing of Free Agent pitcher Scott Kazmir Monday, the A’s all but sealed their fate with fellow Free Agent and recent A’s pitcher Bartolo Colon. Colon was the de facto ace of the A’s in 2013 and led them to another AL West championship all awhile turning in a Cy Young-caliber season. The amount of money/years Colon was looking for however was too rich for the A’s blood and they quickly turned foot and signed the lefty Kazmir. Putting it like that makes it seem like the A’s made all the right moves. They got the best of Colon before he became too expensive for them to keep. But did the A’s make a wrong move during this?
Colon had a near career year in 2013. He pitched to a 2.65 ERA, with an 18-6 record, and three shutouts (his most since 2002). His WHIP was an eye-popping 1.16. All of this added up to an All Star Game nod and finishing 6th in the Cy Young voting. The 2013 season was arguably the best Colon has had since his 2005 Cy Young award winning season. On top of putting in a huge season he also led a relatively young pitching staff. He kept the young pitchers calm and his laid back attitude certainly was contagious eventually leading to positive results.
Going into the offseason A’s GM Billy Beane mentioned that one of his main goals was to try and resign Colon. It was reported that Beane and Co. met with Colon’s agents multiple times, but could come to not resolution. The one overarching theme in all of this was would the A’s offer Colon a Qualifying Offer (a one year $14.1 million deal). If they did and Colon declined the offer the A’s could let Colon go and if he signed elsewhere they would get Colon’s new teams highest draft pick (or second highest if the first was protected).
The A’s never offered Colon a Qualifying Offer (nor any other of their Free Agents, most notably closer Grant Balfour) and along he went into the Free Agent frenzy. Kazmir’s deal brought about a lot of dialogue from the A’s and multiple media outlets. One comment made from SF Chronicle and A’s beat writer Susan Slusser mentioned that Kazmir’s $11 million average annual value (or AAV, he signed a 2 year/$22 million deal) was less than the reported $14 million AAV Colon was after. That in itself does not seem troubling until you remember the fact that Colon said he could pitch for three more years and the fact that he was looking for a multi-year deal.
That is where the A’s messed up with Colon. For a team that puts a huge emphasis on draft picks and developing in house, not offering a Qualifying Offer to Colon was a huge miss. This is made especially true by the fact that Colon would’ve almost undoubtedly decline the offer including when you take into consideration what he is looking for on the Free Agent market. The A’s got a good pitcher in Kazmir when they signed him. Unfortunately, they potentially could’ve gotten him and a first round draft pick.