A’s re-sign Bartolo Colon to one-year contract

The early activity continues for the A’s this offseason, as they re-signed veteran right-hander Bartolo Colon to a one-year $3 million deal Saturday which includes incentives that could earn the starter more.

I’m not surprised to see the A’s target some veteran depth for their starting rotation — I think it was a need as they look ahead to 2013. But frankly, I thought Colon had pitched his final game in an A’s uniform after he was suspended in August for testing positive for elevated levels of testosterone. Not so much because I thought the A’s would pass ethical judgement on him. More so because of his age — he’ll turn 40 in May — and because of the fundamental question that must be asked in light of Colon’s suspension: How much did his use of testosterone factor into his effectiveness last season? And what kind of pitcher will he be when he’s not using it? The A’s are convinced he can still get major league hitters out.

“I think you have to ask yourself that question,” general manager Billy Beane said. “We did see him pitch a couple times in winter ball, 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.”

A follow-up question to this signing: What does it mean for the chances of free agent Brandon McCarthy returning to Oakland? The right-hander said he would like to return, based in part on how well the A’s treated him and his family after he required brain surgery when he was struck by a line drive. But part of it might also depend on what kind of interest he gets on the open market. Indications are that McCarthy will be full strength for the start of spring training.

Beane said the signing of Colon and the possibility of re-signing McCarthy “are independent of each other. Brandon is still recovering, and we’re a long way from spring training. We’ll sort of take it a day at a time.”

Follow-up question No. 2: Have the A’s stockpiled enough pitching (and outfield) depth to try to swing a trade for a shortstop? You’ve got to think they will explore that option. But keep in mind that the A’s value their pitching depth greatly, based on the rash of injuries they’ve encountered in recent seasons.

“I’m not going to get into specifics of what we would and wouldn’t do,” Beane said. “We made it pretty clear up to this point that we’d like to maintain our core group of players.”

But this is the A’s, so we shouldn’t be surprised by anything that happens between now and the start of spring training …

Joe Stiglich