OAKLAND — The Oakland A's aren't going to spend $14.1 million to bring back Bartolo Colon, but the club still hopes to have the 40-year-old right-handed starting pitcher in camp come spring training.
Major League Baseball's Monday midday deadline for teams to make qualifying offers to their own free agents saw the A's pass on both Colon and closer Grant Balfour. This is the second year of this system which in place to determine free agent compensation.
For the A's to have received a draft choice in return for Colon or Balfour signing elsewhere, they would have had to offer each player one-year, $14.1 million contracts. They decided that wasn't going to happen.
In the case of Balfour, who made $4.5 million last season in the finale of his three-year Oakland contract, the A's have a long history of not paying top dollar for their closers. Balfour (1-3, 38 saves, 2.59 ERA) would like to come back, but he's likely to make double or more elsewhere, so that almost certainly means he won't be back in 2014.
The A's have Ryan Cook 6-4, 2.52, two saves), who closed for a time in 2012, and Sean Doolittle (5-5, 3.13, 2 saves), both of who have been designated as closers-in-waiting while Balfour was The Man. Oakland also saw Dan Otero come up with a great two-thirds of a season (2-0, 1.38 ERA) in Oakland after having started the season as the closer at Triple-A Sacramento.
Colon made $3 million in 2013 in winning 18 games (against six losses with a 2.59 ERA) and making the American League All-Star team.
He too wants to come back, and the A's have made it clear that they want to pursue his return. Manager Bob Melvin and general manager Billy Beane have both said they'd like Colon to return.
``When you look at the numbers and what he provided for us, we'd be foolish not to say we wouldn't have interest in bringing him back,'' Beane said at season's end. ``He's great on the mound. He's sort of a nice, relaxing personality to have in the clubhouse amongst a bunch of kids.''
Asked about Colon and Balfour Monday, Beane said he wouldn't have any comment on potential free agents, which is a policy he's stuck with for years now.
Strictly speaking, the A's are overloaded with starting pitching heading into 2014 even without Colon.
Brett Anderson, whose option for $8 million was picked up last week, is back as a starter after being limited by injuries to relief work in 2013. Jarrod Parker, A.J. Griffin, Tommy Milone, Dan Straily and rookie Sonny Gray all made between 10 and 32 starts last year.
What none of them has is Colon's veteran's gravitas. The A's love to talk about the example Colon sets for the younger pitchers, and they'd like another year of that. They just don't want to be locked in at $14.1 million for it.