OAKLAND -- In a deal that was surprising for different reasons, the A's re-signed right-hander Bartolo Colon on Saturday to a one-year contract that could pay more than $5 million.
Colon tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone and has five games left on his 50-game ban, and he also turns 40 in May. He was suspended Aug. 22 for using a performance-enhancing drug.
But A's general manager Billy Beane expressed no hesitation about bringing him back.
"We're more than happy with what Bartolo did last year," Beane said. "Even though we were able to make good without him after the suspension, I'm not sure we would have been where we were without him."
Colon will receive a $3 million base salary but can earn more than $5 million total if he hits all of his incentives, according to an informed source.
Colon went 10-9 with a 3.43 ERA and led the A's in innings pitched at the time of his suspension. But a question remains about how much his pitching was aided by the testosterone.
"I think you have to ask yourself that question," Beane said. "We did see him pitch a couple times in winter ball (in the Dominican Republic), and we had somebody down there to answer that very question. We saw he was throwing just as well down there, velocity-wise, as he was during the season."
The A's have a promising young starting pitching core headed by Brett Anderson, Tommy Milone, Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin. They also have Dan Straily, Travis Blackley and highly touted prospects such as Brad Peacock and Sonny Gray.
But all except Anderson were rookies last season or have yet to make their major league debuts, so it's understandable why they wanted to add a veteran.
Beane said the return of Colon is "independent" of whether the A's re-sign free agent starter Brandon McCarthy, who has expressed a desire to return.
The A's want to re-sign shortstop Stephen Drew, but considering their pitching and outfield depth, it's also possible they could trade for shortstop.