NEW YORK -- Bartolo Colon laughed when asked about the possibility that the Mets may trade him prior to Sunday's waiver Trade Deadline. A 17-year veteran of eight big league clubs, Colon pays so little heed to this sort of thing that he was unaware he even hit the waiver wire until a reporter brought reports of it to his attention.
"Whatever the team and ownership decide to do, that's their part," Colon replied through an interpreter. "My part is to pitch."
Yet the possibility of his impending departure is real. Now all but out of contention in 2014, the Mets are staring at a 2015 rotation that could include Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jon Niese, Jacob deGrom and Dillon Gee, with Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero both eager to assume their own places within that hierarchy. While Colon would make that group stronger, giving the Mets a measure of starting-pitching depth that few teams possess, his presence is not necessary.
Colon's value to playoff contenders this September, meanwhile, would be high, considering his 3.82 ERA and 5.91 strikeout-to-walk ratio -- including a 4-2 record and a 2.88 ERA over his past six starts. At age 41, Colon is as good as ever.
That is why the Mets reportedly placed Colon on waivers over the weekend, initially opening the door for four possible scenarios:
• A team claims Colon and the Mets work out a trade with that club.
• A team claims him and the Mets are unable to strike a deal, pulling him back and making him ineligible for a trade until the winter.
• A team claims him and the Mets allow the claiming team to absorb Colon's contract and salary.
• Colon goes unclaimed, allowing the Mets to negotiate freely with any club.
The fourth and final scenario is what unfolded Monday, according to FOX Sports, giving the Mets plenty of options over the final six days of August. Here are four teams on their radar this week:
The Angels are the obvious suitor: a first-place team in desperate need of starting pitching after losing Garrett Richards for the season.
The Angels certainly have the desire to trade for Colon, who played for them from 2004-07, but they may not have the opportunity or the proper chips. As the owners of baseball's best record, the Halos had last dibs on Colon, but they apparently decided not to put in a claim.
What's more, Los Angeles may not boast enough Minor League talent to tempt the Mets, who would be content to wait until the winter if they do not find an acceptable deal this week. The Angels did not place a single player in the top 80 of MLB.com's midseason Top 100 Prospects list, and they have just one -- 2014 first-round Draft pick Sean Newcomb, who is not eligible for trade until next year -- in the top 100. The upper levels of their farm system are thin, which could discourage a Mets organization looking for Major League-ready talent.
As one of a handful of National League contenders in need of a starting pitcher, the Dodgers had an opportunity to claim Colon long before the Angels. Currently relying on journeymen Roberto Hernandez and Kevin Correia two out of every five days, the Dodgers need an arm as much as -- if not more than -- their Southern California rivals, and they just saw firsthand what Colon can do.
Los Angeles also has a strong farm system, including three players in the top 20 on the Top 100 Prospects list. But the Dodgers may balk at giving up any piece of that trio for a 41-year-old pitcher, and their young talent thins out considerably after that. Right-hander Zach Lee could intrigue the Mets, but he has struggled mightily in his first taste of Triple-A this summer.
The A's don't have a major need for Colon, with their additions of Jon Lester and Jeff Samardzija already transforming this bunch into one of the game's best rotations. But they do still trail the Angels in the American League West, creating the thought that they could use that status to block the Halos from claiming Colon themselves.
If the A's had claimed Colon, there was a strong chance the Mets would have pulled him back, given Oakland's uncertain interest. The two sides did not wind up having to go through those formalities.
Before Lester went to the A's, the Pirates were among the teams that seemed most likely to deal for him. Just 1 1/2 games out of the NL Wild Card lead, the Bucs could transfer that interest to Colon. Pittsburgh has since improved its starting pitching thanks to strong runs by onetime question marks Jeff Locke and Vance Worley, but its rotation still seems weaker than those of the NL Central contenders it is chasing, Milwaukee and St. Louis.
It's worth noting that the Mets worked out a waiver deal with the Pirates last year, shipping Marlon Byrd and John Buck to Pittsburgh for Vic Black and Dilson Herrera. Both sides came away satisfied with that trade, perhaps setting the table for an encore this summer.