To the surprise of this writer, the Oakland A’s announced the re-signing of suspended starting pitcher Bartolo Colon for a one year deal worth up to $3 million with performance bonuses. 

Don’t get me wrong, Colon was solid with the A’s in 2012 up until his suspension for performance-enhancing drugs. His stat line was 10-9 with a 3.43 ERA in 24 starts. By all accounts, he had a very good season.

However, what can the Oakland A’s reasonably expect from a 39-year-old starting pitcher whose performance was almost certainly amplified by his use of PEDs? If nothing else, he becomes a stopgap in the event of sophomore recession from Tom Milone or Jarrod Parker.

You have to wonder if Dan Straily and A.J. Griffin will have a spot in the rotation now with Colon’s return (he is slated to miss the first five games of the 2013 season to complete the 50-game suspension levied in August).

As it stands, you can reasonably assume Brett Anderson, Jarrod Parker and Tom Milone are the top three starters. Colon likely slides into the fourth spot. So barring any injury, it becomes a battle between Griffin and Straily, with dark horses in the form of prospects Brad Peacock and Sonny Gray.

What that certainly means is that the A’s could part ways with Brandon McCarthy. McCarthy has been a top-tier starter during his time in Oakland, but has also consistently battled injury. In that way, he reminded me of the tantalizing, but too-often-injured Justin Duchscherer. Of course, we all know he continues to recover from the frightening line drive he took off his skull against the Los Angeles Angels on September 5. 

According to Jane Lee of, Oakland general manager Billy Beane insists that it will not impact McCarthy’s return, but realistically, how can it not? Colon’s return puts in the A’s in a spot where even without McCarthy, there are eight pitchers for five spots in the rotation.

And unlike 2012, there are no guys like Tyson Ross and Graham Godfrey in this mix. Granted, Oakland’s recent injury issues with starting pitching makes it a practical move.

But I have not forgotten that Lew Wolff still owns this team. Any type of excessive payroll is not going to be allowed as long as the A’s are still inhabitants of the Coliseum. So the recent history has shown that if Oakland adds, it will ultimately have to subtract. Chris Young’s return was the symbolic end of Jonny Gomes’ time. Derek Norris sped up the departure of Kurt Suzuki, etc.

In other words, Colon (who was solid while pitching in the Dominican) will have every chance to regain his spot in the rotation. Why? Because he comes with great value for a low price. Nothing in the A’s model suggests doing more than necessary at any one position. So welcome back Bartolo. And it’s likely goodbye Brandon. 

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