St. Louis Cardinals: Rays and Cards discussing Alex Colome
Early Wednesday afternoon, Jon Morosi reported the St. Louis Cardinals and Tampa Bay Rays are discussing closer Alex Colome.
Add another name to the rumor mill. However, this time it is a name not talked about as often as Giancarlo Stanton. Jon Morosi named Alex Colome as the subject of trade talks between the St. Louis Cardinals and Tampa Bay Rays early Wednesday afternoon. While much of the focus has been on Stanton, it is refreshing to see a change of pace in the rumor mill.
Early on in the off-season the St. Louis Cardinals came out and said they were looking for relief pitching, especially at the closer’s position. Some early reports indicated the Cardinals would find their closer through free agency. Names like Greg Holland and Wade Davis have dominated the conversation. However, now we have Alex Colome, a 28-year-old right-hander, at the forefront of the closer news.
Earlier this week I discussed the Rays and Cardinals being potential partners in a trade. While I thought the focus for the Cardinals would be starting pitching like Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi, I definitely overlooked the possibility of Colome joining the Redbirds.
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So, who is Alex Colome?
Colome is a starter turned reliever, but now has two years of closing under his belt. Over the last two seasons, Colome has a 4-7 record in 122 games to the tune of a 2.63 ERA in 123.1 innings pitched.
In those same 123.1 innings, Colome struck out 129 batters, boasting a nice 9.4 SO/9. More importantly, Colome saved eighty-four games in two seasons (37 in 2016 and 47 in 2017). Colome was the MLB’s save leader in 2017.
Digging a little deeper, Fangraphs calculated Colome’s FIP at 3.15 over the last two season, which ranks as excellent according to the site.
A stat indicative of his excellent FIP and ERA is his HR/9 rate. In 2016, his HR/9 rate was right at .95. He got even better in 2017 with a HR/9 rate of .54.
If there is any pause for concern, Colome’s strike out ratio did drop from 11.28 to 7.83 over the last two seasons. To no surprise, his walk rate went up over the same time span from 6.6% to 8.2%. While Colome has a wide arsenal of pitches, including a change-up, curve ball, slider, he went away from that in 2017.
He threw his cutter 67.3% of the time after not throwing a cutter at all in 2016. The other pitch was his fastball at 32.7%, with an average speed of 95.1 mph. I wonder if his walk rate and strike out rate is due to this change. You would have to think Colome’s ability to change speeds and angle led to his high strike out rate.
Colome is no Mariano Rivera, but he was still effective with his pitches. Colome generated a 49.5% swing percentage in 2016 and 47.8% in 2017. While batters made contact roughly 82% of the time a ball was in the strike zone, batters only managed a .215 batting average over the last two seasons.
It’s easy to understand why the St. Louis Cardinals have interest in Colome. However, what would it take to get him?
In my GM meeting post, I mentioned the Rays could use some outfield help, as well as young pitching. Fortunately, the Cardinals have both of those positions at their disposal this off-season, assuming something remains in the event they make a move for Stanton. However, Colome would not cost nearly as much, so let’s explore what the Rays would want in return.
Related Story: What to watch for at the GM meetings
The Tampa Bay Rays could use a right fielder, so you might as well throw in the names Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty. Both are young, controllable outfielders for the foreseeable future, so they definitely could hold some interest for the Rays. The Rays could also have interest in someone like Harrison Bader.
Pitching wise, I don’t think the St. Louis Cardinals will dip into their top pitching prospects to acquire Colome. However, that doesn’t mean the Colome will be cheap in relative terms to his return. You would have to wonder whether someone like Austin Gomber would be consider in such a deal.
I think many Cardinal fans would also welcome the idea of potentially piecing in Chris Archer and Colome together. While it certainly will cost more in the long-run, it would be a game changer for sure. I think the ideal scenario for the Cardinals could look something like Randal Grichuk and Gomber for Colome.
Next: Time to move on from Stanton
As the GM meetings progress, lookout for more information on Colome in the upcoming days. It’s possible a deal could be done by the end of this week. I am not betting on that, but I wondering how much longer the Cardinals will wait before they strike.