Hawkins returns to Rockies on one-year deal
Veteran righty was key cog in Colorado bullpen during 2007 World Series run
DENVER -- The Rockies signed veteran right-handed pitcher LaTroy Hawkins, a key member of the bullpen when Colorado went to the World Series in 2007, to a one-year contract on Friday.
Hawkins was expected to have received a guarantee of $2.5 million -- a $2.25 million salary for 2014 plus a buyout of $250,000 on a club option for 2015. The team made no mention of an option in announcing the signing.
Hawkins, who turns 41 on Dec. 21, went 3-2 with a 2.93 ERA in 72 appearances last season for the Mets in his 19th Major League season. In 2007, Hawkins made 62 relief appearances for the Rockies (2-5, 3.42 ERA), and teammates credited him for providing leadership for a young bullpen.
Hawkins, who struck out 55 and walked 10 this year for the Mets, is a key signing as the Rockies attempt to rebuild a bullpen that struggled through injuries and inconsistency this past season.
A reason the Rockies went from contender in the first two months of the season to last place was the series of injuries experienced by veteran closer Rafael Betancourt. The Rockies tried to ride through Betancourt's early June right groin injury and the emergency appendectomy he underwent in July. But in August, Betancourt wound up sustaining a season-ending elbow injury -- one that's expected to cost him the 2014 season.
Hawkins should get an opportunity to close in Spring Training. The Rockies also have confidence in Rex Brothers, who handled the ninth-inning role in place of Betancourt.
If Hawkins does not win the closer's job, he will join Matt Belisle as a right-handed veteran leader. Wilton Lopez, Mitchell Boggs -- a former closer with the Cardinals -- and Adam Ottavino are other righties in the bullpen, and the Rox have expressed interest in re-signing Manny Corpas.
Hard-throwing right-hander Chad Bettis, who worked as a starter and a reliever after being called up in 2013, also could figure in the late innings.
In addition to Hawkins, the Rox have pursued Brian Wilson, Jose Veras and Grant Balfour, among others.