Jake Westbrook’s contract included an $8.5 million mutual option for next season, which gave him the ability to potentially become a free agent.
Instead the 34-year-old right-hander and the Cardinals have agreed to a deal new deal that turns the $8.5 million mutual option into a guaranteed salary for 2013 and tacks on a new mutual option for 2014.
Westbrook was acquired from the Indians in mid-2010 and then stuck around via two-year, $16.5 million deal that offseason, throwing a total of 413 innings with a 4.01 ERA for St. Louis.
By locking up Westbrook for next season and perhaps 2014 the Cardinals have seemingly decreased their odds of bringing back impending free agent Kyle Lohse, who’s had the two best seasons of his career at age 32 and 33 with a huge payday right around the corner.
Westbrook has been more of a third or fourth starter for the Cardinals, while Lohse has a 3.03 ERA in 55 starts since the beginning of last season, but obviously the size of the commitment is significantly smaller in Westbrook’s case.
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.