To help support the rotation, Mets bring in Jason Vargas on a two-year, $16 million deal
After having Tommy John Surgery in 2015, Vargas posted an 18-11 record with a 4.16 ERA in 2017
Coming into the 2018 season, the Mets have filled a lot of holes from their 2017 campaign. From infield help to the bullpen, GM Sandy Alderson has been able to work through small deals to help the team. One glaring omission from these moves was an insurance policy for the starting rotation. It appears that part of the organizational wish list can be crossed off, as the Mets have signed Jason Vargas to a two-year, $16 million deal. The deal also has a club option for 2020. FanRag Sports and MLB.com were able to confirm the nature of the deal.
In 2017, Vargas went 19-11 with a 4.16 ERA and struck out 134 for the Royals. Over the past few years, he has been through a roller coaster of a career. In 12 MLB seasons, Vargas has played for five teams, one being the Mets in a short stint in 2007. As he got older, the 35-year old became riddled with injuries, but he still managed to fight his way to becoming a reliable arm.
During his time with the Mets, he only appeared in a few games in 2007. In October, Vargas had a bone spur removed from his elbow, and surgery to repair a torn labrum, missing the 2008 season. A trade later that year ended his short tenure with the Amazins. As a corresponding move to complete the deal, the Mets moved T.J. Rivera to the 60-day DL.
From 2010-2014, Jason Vargas became a workhorse, ranging from 180 to 210 innings pitched. In 2015, Vargas had Tommy John surgery, missing the rest of that season and the majority of the 2016 season. After pitching in only three games in 2016, he stormed back in 2017, pitching in 32 games. It was a career resurgence for the lefty, going 18-11 with a 4.16 ERA in 179.2 innings for the Royals. He struck out 134 and walked 58 batters. He made the All-Star team for the first time in his career. It was a career-high in wins for Vargas. The only season you could compare that to was his 2012 campaign with the Mariners, where he posted a 14-11 record with a 3.85 ERA.
While the market was open for an Alex Cobb or Lance Lynn, the team expressed extreme interest in Jason Vargas. Add in the fact that he didn’t cost a draft pick or more money than expected, and you got yourself a bargain.
Manager Mickey Callaway stated there is promise in Vargas. The two know each other well, facing off in the AL Central many times as adversaries. Callaway stated that if Vargas gets 18 wins for the Mets, he did his job. Familiarity is key, especially thanks to new pitching coach Dave Eiland at the front. The two were teammates in Kansas City from 2014 to 2017. If there’s anyone that understands Vargas’ potential, it’s his former pitching coach.
The deal is considered a Bartolo Colon-like one; an aging pitcher looking to help a young team compete. Vargas can provide relief help at several points throughout the season. It is also a deal that will look to keep the rotation healthy, and on their toes. Instead of grinding through the dog days of summer, the Mets’ staff will be playing it safe. For the young players, they now have to prove they can stay healthy. Inconsistency has been the name of the game for a once heralded rotation, and they are not getting younger. Callaway has insisted the team won’t be using a six-man rotation, so there may be drastic changes.
Zach Wheeler was one of the first players to be open about the deal, wondering where he plays into all of this. While the future is unknown, everyone, from Noah Syndergaard to Matt Harvey, has a chance to go above and beyond expectations. Vargas is not on the team to take a spot, but to help the young guns.
At the end of the day, Jason Vargas is an insurance policy the Mets needed. The teams productive offseason seems to have ended with the Vargas signing, although a reliever isn’t out of the question. Small deals made by Alderson may not have blown minds, but they have been done to insure fans that there is a plan. How Vargas’ second stint in New York goes is unknown, but unpredictability is what baseball is all about.