There were rumors of interest in Alex Colomè on the Washington Nationals’ part all the way back in 2016 and again in 2019, though the Nats never acquired or signed the right-handed reliever, but the club and the now-34-year-old, 10-year veteran agreed on a minor league deal for 2023.
Colomè is coming off a 2022 campaign in which he put up a 5.74 ERA, 4.74 FIP, 22 walks (4.21 BB/9), 32 Ks (6.13 K/9), and a rough .300/.369/.484 line against in 53 games and 47 innings pitched for the Colorado Rockies.
It wasn’t all the Coors Field effect though.
Colomé did give up four of five home runs on the year in the Rockies’ home, where opposing hitters put up a .299/.349/.526 line against him, but hitters also had a .301/.389/.441 line against him on the road last season.
Colomé’s 4.21 BB/9 were the highest BB/9 since converting to relief work exclusively in 2016, and his 6.13 K/9 were the lowest, while his 14.9% K% was down from a 20.0 K% in 2021 and a 21.0% K% for his career.
The reliever’s cutter (84.4%) and four-seam fastball (15.6%) sat where they’ve been in recent seasons velocity-wise with his cutter at 90.8 MPH and heater at 94.5, though the .277 and .529 BAA on the two pitches, respectively, were up from .230/.371 in 2021 in Minnesota and .154/.200 in 2020’s 60-game campaign in Chicago (AL).
So Colomé is not the reliever he was back in 2019 when the Nationals were previously rumored to have interest, but the risk is lower as well, with the rebooting club adding him on a minor league deal.
If he impresses, and earns a spot in the bullpen, the reliever will be reunited with manager Davey Martinez, who was a coach with Tampa Bay in Colomé’s first couple years with the Rays (2013-14), and he’d give the club depth in the ‘pen if effective in Spring Training.
As Washington Post writer Jesse Dougherty noted in a story on the signing, the Nationals right now have, “... Tanner Rainey still recovering from Tommy John surgery ... and Andrés Machado [is] off the 40-man roster after he was designated for assignment this month,” so there is an opportunity for a reliever to step in as part of a relief corps which should have arms like Kyle Finnegan, Hunter Harvey, Carl Edwards, Jr., the recently-re-signed Erasmo Ramírez, and Rule 5 pick Thad Ward in the mix, and Mason Thompson, Victor Arano, Jordan Weems, Cory Abbott, and Paolo Espino fighting for spots in relief, long relief, or the rotation in some cases, along with lefties and non-roster invitees to Spring Training like Sean Doolittle and Francisco Perez.
Do you expect to see Colomé on the Nationals’ roster come Opening Day 2023?
Who else is going to leave Spring Training with the big league club out of the relievers mentioned above?