Veteran LHP Gio Gonzalez agreed to a deal with the Milwaukee Brewers, meaning the New York Mets are rolling the dice.
Did the Mets make a mistake by sitting this one out?
Last week, Gonzalez opted out of his MiLB deal with the New York Yankees and became a free agent. As soon as he hit the open market, speculation began about the 33-year-old possibly putting on a Mets uniform.
This speculation made a lot of sense. Gonzalez has been an above-average pitcher for several years and seemingly represents a sizable upgrade over current No. 5 starter Jason Vargas.
Instead, the team’s interest was tepid. When I reached out to a team source, I was told that they would simply do their “due diligence” on Gonzalez. Mike Puma of the New York Post backed this up.
“Mets viewed Gio as a marginal upgrade over Vargas at best,” Puma wrote. “Weren’t prepared to offer guaranteed dollars and face the prospect of carrying him all season.”
Both parts of this statement are troublesome. Gonzalez pitched to a 4.16 FIP last year and has been counted on for 170-plus innings throughout his career. Meanwhile, Vargas has logged a 6.63 ERA in 107 innings since rejoining the Mets prior to the 2018 season. Per Fangraphs, Gonzalez has not been worth less than 2 WAR since 2014. Vargas has not been worth more than 2 WAR in the same time frame.
Secondly, it raises some eyebrows that the Mets felt $2M was too rich to attempt to upgrade their rotation. To put this amount in perspective, Jed Lowrie will earn $8.5M this year and he has yet to play a game for the club. Todd Frazier and Juan Lagares are each making $9M this year. Travis d’Arnaud has a salary of $3.5M. Even LOOGY Luis Avilan is making $1.6M.
I understand that Lowrie was a Brodie Van Wagenen client, but it is time for Van Wagenen to put on his general manager hat.
For what it’s worth, Vargas has not allowed more than one earned run in either of his last two starts. The drawback is that he has failed to pitch beyond five innings in any of his five 2019 starts.
To put a bow on it, Gonzalez has been significantly better than Vargas over the last couple of years. This was a chance worth taking for the Mets.
With another option off the board, the Mets need to be rewarded for their faith in Vargas sooner rather than later.
The Mets dropped the series finale, 6-0, to the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday night at Citi Field. While they did take the first two games of the set, Vince Velasquez held them in check from the beginning. Velasquez finished with six strikeouts in five innings.
The Mets are off on Thursday before beginning a three-game series with the Brewers on Friday.
Rhame not bothered by Hoskins’ trot
One day after being pitched up-and-in twice by Jacob Rhame, Phillies 1B Rhys Hoskins got his revenge on Wednesday night.
With Bryce Harper on first base, Hoskins hit a two-run home run in the eighth inning for the final runs of the game.
Clearly remembering the night before, the slugger took 34.23 seconds to round the bases. This was nearly four seconds slower than Bartolo Colon‘s home run trot in 2016.
To his credit, Rhame was not bothered by the events that unfolded. “He got me,” the Mets’ reliever said post-game. “Make a better pitch, he doesn’t get to run the bases.”
We likely have not seen the last of the drama between these two clubs. The Mets and Phillies will meet 13 more times this season.