The New York Mets have done well so far to address almost every hole on the roster this winter, which is why adding a cost-effective veteran starter would be the icing on the cake.
The slow grind of the winter is coming to a close as pitchers and catchers reported on Monday to Port St. Lucie. For the Mets, it has been a productive offseason that has seen the organization fill multiple holes across the bullpen, outfield, and infield.
The one position group not listed there is the starting rotation, which of course has the most significant question marks of all. It’s no secret that the team’s pitching is supremely talented, but unfortunately, those arms have been especially fragile thus far in their young careers.
I'm not trying to be cynical, but Wheeler has not had a full, healthy season since 2014. Harvey has had exactly one since 2012. Matz has never had one. The Mets are staking their season on that changing, while several dependable free agent starters remain unsigned. That's all.
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) February 12, 2018
Even though the team has bolstered the rest of their roster, it will all be for naught if the pitching yet again fails to stay healthy. All of this is to say; it’s head-scratching that the Mets do not seem interested in adding another veteran starting pitcher.
As DiComo explained, multiple veterans on the market could be had for cost-effective deals. Let’s examine two of the possibilities.
Garcia is not exactly a sure bet to be a workhorse, but he has proven he can stay healthy the last three years due to his 77 games started.
In 2017, Garcia threw 157 innings across three teams in two different leagues. His 5-10 record and 4.41 ERA might not have you salivating, but Garcia checks off the boxes for what the Mets will want.
In 2017, Garcia was able to strikeout 7.4 batters per nine innings and had a FIP of 4.25, which hints at a lack of defensive support and luck.
What makes Garcia a great fit is the ability to take the ball every fifth day if called upon, while not breaking the bank in doing so. Spotrac currently has Garcia’s market value slated at a 2-year, $20 million deal.
Garcia would slot into the fifth starter’s role with the Mets, provide quality innings, and be a mentor for a staff that has been severely lacking a veteran presence since the departure of Bartolo Colon.
Vargas is a 35-year-old coming off a career year, as he tossed 179.2 innings and won 18 games in 2017. In 32 starts, Vargas compiled a 4.12 ERA with a 2.9 BB/9 rate.
Vargas is older than Garcia, but his 2017 was much more successful. Interestingly, Spotrac has Vargas valued at a price nearly identical to Garcia’s at 2-years, $19 million.
Vargas is a seasoned veteran with 1401.1 innings under his belt and a 4.17 career ERA. Vargas is an interesting case because he has strung together a late-career renaissance due to four straight years of an ERA+ over 106.
Vargas’ addition would mirror that of Bartolo Colon‘s four years ago. Colon too was coming off an 18 win season and on the back-nine of his career when the Mets inked him to a two year, $20 million deal.
Colon was just what the Mets needed at the time, and heading into 2018 signing Vargas would be a deja vu move by the Mets. Either way, adding a veteran presence to the rotation who can contribute quality innings is essential to the rotation, and more importantly the team’s success in 2018.