Mets' Bartolo Colon took less money, accepted relief possibility to stay

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Bartolo Colon left more money on the table elsewhere to re-sign with the New York Mets for $7.25 million, the Dominican right-hander indicated Wednesday.

Colon cited a pair of factors for his decision -- his fondness for the organization and the fact that he makes his home in New Jersey.

As a result, he is spending a third season with the ballclub despite the fact that he could end up in the bullpen late in the season if everyone remains healthy.

“Of course there were other offers, but nothing really interested me like the Mets did,” Colon said through an interpreter. “There were higher money offers, but that just wasn’t something that interested me, because this is my family here.”

Colon, who turns 43 on May 24, went 14-13 with a 4.16 ERA in 33 appearances (31 starts) last season. He capably worked out of the bullpen during the postseason.

Colon ranks third on the all-time list among Dominican-born pitchers with 218 wins, trailing only Hall of Famers Juan Marichal (243) and Pedro Martinez (219).

“It means a lot to me,” Colon said about likely passing Martinez early this season. “But, of course, Pedro is our favorite. He is huge to us. Although I’ll be very proud, we will still always look up to Pedro as the big guy.”

As for whether he will pitch long enough to notch 26 more career wins and pass Marichal, Colon added: “We’ll just see what happens in the future.”

Colon in past years had said he will pitch as long as his body allows. Asked Wednesday how much longer he plans to continue, Colon modified that comment somewhat, saying: “I’m just taking it year by year. I knew that I wanted to be back this year. Next year we’ll see what happens.”

Colon will join a rotation to open the season that also includes young phenoms Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz. When Zack Wheeler returns from Tommy John surgery around July 1, the Mets plan to use a six-man rotation for a turn or two. However, at some point, it is entirely possible Colon will be assigned to the bullpen.

“He brings a lot to the table,” manager Terry Collins said. “If something happens, and he starts all season long, we’ve got him. If not, he showed in the postseason how valuable he can be out of the bullpen. He could be the guy to make a big difference in the second half of the season. Right now, he’s got to get ready to start. And we’re lucky that we’ve got him back.”

Said Colon about the relief possibility late in the season: “Of course I thought about that. But we were really able to sit down and talk and come up with a plan. We knew there would definitely be a certain number of starts. That made me happy enough that we were able to sit down and talk about it and figure some things out.”