Kris Benson hasn’t pitched much recently — eight appearances last year, none in 2008 or 2007 — but his agent says he’s healthy, throwing well and expects to sign with someone in the next couple of weeks. Candidates: Diamondbacks, Cubs, Reds and Nationals.
Benson is 35 now, and has long lost the luster of being the number one overall pick way back in 1996. At his peak he was an almost exactly league average pitcher, though his strikeout rate went way the hell down in his last two full years.
To think he’d have anything left in the tank right now seems like an exercise in wishful thinking, a greater affinity for familiar names than useful ones, or both. He may get signed soon, but if he breaks camp as a member of a Major League staff I’ll eat my hat.
Last month, free agent right-hander Bartolo Colon told reporters that he’d be open to taking a minor league deal in 2018, but only if he was guaranteed a return to the Mets’ system. The 44-year-old starter is nearing the end of a 20-year career, and it makes sense that he’d want to have one last hurrah in the city where he had some of his most productive years.
Now, Twins starter Ervin Santana tells Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press, it looks like the Mets might also be open to a reunion. It’s doubtful that Colon has all that much left in the tank, especially following a combined 7-14 record and 6.48 ERA for the Braves and Twins last year, but he’s not necessarily looking to reproduce the 15+ win, sub-4.00 ERA totals of years past.
Instead, Santana says, Colon is seeking the opportunity to win just six more games. He’ll enter the 2018 season five wins shy of the all-time record for a Latin American-born player, and is hoping to claim that title for himself before he enters retirement in 2019. Former Orioles and Expos hurler Dennis Martinez currently holds the record after clinching his 245th win back in 1998. While it took Colon a full season of starts to come up with even seven wins in 2017, he’s only one year removed from a 15-win campaign in 2016. Provided that the Mets are willing to gamble on him again, the milestone may not be that far out of reach.