The Mets have signed free agent LHP Jason Vargas to a two-year deal.
The deal is worth $16 million over two years, and contains a third-year option, reports Jerry Crasnick of ESPN. It also contains incentives based on innings pitched that can be worth up to $1.5 million each season, reports Jon Heyman of FanRag.
The Mets had maintained "solid interest" in signing Vargas, who pitched under new pitcing coach Dave Eiland last season with the Royals, Mike Puma of the NY Post reported on Thursday.
Vargas, 35, had a 4.16 ERA (4.67 FIP) and 1.33 WHIP with 134 strikeouts in 179.2 innings (32 starts) in 2017. He has a career ERA of 4.16, to go along with a 1.31 WHIP during his 12-year career.
With the addition of Vargas, assuming the deal isn't front-loaded or back-loaded, the Mets' payroll is currently at $152.6 million, which is roughly $2 million less than what it was at the beginning of 2017.
The Mets are reportedly still seeking a left-handed reliever.
Danny Abriano, SNY.tv | Twitter |
With the uncertainty surrounding Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, and Zack Wheeler -- who all dealt with serious injury issues and ineffectiveness last season -- the Mets badly needed to add some stability to their starting rotation. And with Vargas, they've done it.
I advocated earlier this offseason that the Mets should sign either Lance Lynn or Alex Cobb, but that was before the tier of pitchers below them started getting two-year deals at somewhat significant average annual values. At this point, it seems that Lynn and Cobb will get four-year deals that pay them much more annually than Vargas got. And the difference in what they may provide on the mound compared to what Vargas may provide is not worth that additional outlay in years or dollars.
Vargas, who missed the majority of the 2016 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, made 32 starts last season. And aside from his Tommy John surgery and recovery, he has been a reliable starter throughout his career -- tossing between 150 and 217 innings every season between 2010 and 2014.
The question now becomes who the Mets leave out of the rotation if everyone is healthy. Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, and Vargas are locks. And Harvey is almost certainly a lock if he's healthy. So the decision will likely come down to choosing between Matz, Wheeler, Robert Gsellman, and Seth Lugo.
If everyone is healthy -- a big if -- the pitcher out of that group with the most upside is likely Matz. And that would mean Wheeler -- and potentially Gsellman and Lugo -- to the bullpen. Or, the Mets can go with a six-man rotation. Either way, they've done what they needed to do with the addition of Vargas.
Watch SNY's coverage of the signing below...