Trevor Hoffman announced his retirement yesterday, calling it quits after an amazing 18-year career that saw the future Hall of Famer rack up an MLB record 601 saves.
To put that staggering total in some context, consider that only one other pitcher in baseball history has even 500 career saves and with Billy Wagner joining Hoffman in retirement only one active pitcher has even 300 career saves.
Unfortunately for Hoffman’s chances of hanging on to the all-time record, the “only one other pitcher” in both scenarios is Mariano Rivera and he’s just 42 saves away from 601.
Rivera is 41 years old, but showed little sign of slowing down last season with a 1.80 ERA and .183 opponents’ batting average, and signed a two-year, $30 million contract with the Yankees last month. In other words, barring an unexpected collapse Rivera is very likely to end up as the all-time saves leader. The bigger question is whether it will happen this season.
Rivera saved “only” 35 games last season, which would leave him just short of Hoffman’s all-time mark, but he had 44 saves in 2009 and has saved 42 or more games in a season six times in 14 years as a full-time closer. Expect him to be closing in on Hoffman down the stretch, which should be a nice bit of added drama for the Yankees in September.
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.