MLB Insider Recalls Bartolo Colon’s Legendary Trade

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Bartolo Colon is something of a cult hero for MLB fans.

They love his rubber arm, his historic home run against James Shields in a New York Mets uniform, his nickname (it’s hard to top “Big Sexy”) and everything he does or says.

But we often forget how good a pitcher he was.

He hasn’t pitched in MLB since 2018, although he’s not officially retired.

Still, he has a very solid 4.12 ERA in 3,461.2 career innings.

On June 27, 2002, exactly 20 years ago, he was the centerpiece of a blockbuster deal between the Montreal Expos and the Cleveland Indians (now the Guardians).

By then, he had already established himself as a very reliable starting pitcher, and Montreal took a chance on him.

“20 years ago today, Cleveland traded Bartolo Colon to the Expos for what the ESPN scroll called ‘Lee Stevens and his prospects’. The prospects were Brandon Phillips, Cliff Lee and Grady Sizemore, who combined for 10 All-Star Games. None played in MLB after Colon’s final season (2018),” tweeted MLB’s Anthony Castrovince.

An impressive return in exchange for Bartolo

This return package is exceptional.

Sizemore was expected to be a game-changing prospect, and although he had some impressive seasons, he was unable to continue due to injuries.

Lee and Phillips, especially the former, dominated the league for a while.

On many occasions, the prospects involved in a deal fail to materialize and the team that acquires the established veteran wins the deal.

This time, however, Cleveland clearly got talent in exchange for their pitching star, even though Colon ended a fine career that even won a Cy Young award.

All three hopefuls were considered stars at some point in their respective careers.

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