The New York Mets haven’t made a ton of flashy moves this offseason, but they’ve still filled their needs. Now they tackle another, by adding another starting pitcher to the fold.
The New York Mets may not be dropping anyone’s jaw with their offseason moves, but they are certainly checking off boxes. Power bat in right field? Check. Utility infielder? Check. Solid veteran third baseman? Check. Backend reliever? Check.
However, with the Spring Training underway, the Mets still had one major hole they desperately needed to fill entering the 2018 season. Because of all the uncertainty surrounding their starting rotation, it was imperative that this club added another starting pitcher to improve the depth of their rotation.
On Friday FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported that the Mets were in agreement with Jason Vargas on a two-year, $16 million pact. Shortly afterward, MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo and ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick added that Vargas will earn $8 million per season, with an extra $1.5 million coming his way if he passes an undisclosed innings threshold each year. The deal also contains a third-year club option for the 2020 season. All in all, Vargas can earn a total of $27 million if he hits all of his incentives over three years.
Vargas joins a starting rotation that has been mired in inconsistency, impotency, and health issues. Based on the uncertainty surrounding Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Steven Matz, Seth Lugo, and Robert Gsellman, adding a veteran starter brings a much-needed sense of security to what was once seen as one of the best starting rotations in baseball.
As Mike Puma of the New York Post reported, the Mets remained very interested in reuniting Vargas with his pitching coach in Kansas City last season, Dave Eiland.
This past season, Vargas posted a 4.16 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, with 134 strikeouts in 179.2 innings pitched at 34 years of age. Over the course of his 12-year career, he has an ERA of 4.17 and a whip of 1.31.
The Apple Valley, CA native has been a consistent innings eater over the course of his career, tossing at least 150 innings each season from 2010 to 2014, as well as 2017. He has also crossed the 200 innings plateau twice in his career (2011, 2012).
Vargas’ return to Flushing, where he spent the 2007 season, spells an extremely competitive battle for the fifth starter role. With Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, and Vargas all favorites to land in the rotation, that leaves Matz, Wheeler, Gsellman, and Lugo duking it out for that final slot.
This likely concludes the Mets’ offseason spending spree after committing $88.5 million in guaranteed money to Anthony Swarzak, Adrian Gonzalez, Jay Bruce, Jose Reyes, Todd Frazier, and Jason Vargas. This means their opening payroll will land somewhere north of $150 million. The club is still rumored to be seeking another left-handed reliever if the right opportunity presents itself.