Mets sign free agent lefty Jason Vargas

The Mets continued to be one of the most active teams in free agency, signing pitcher Jason Vargas to a two-year, $16 million deal. The signing reunites Vargas with Dave Eiland, who was his pitching coach last year with the Royals. In 2017, Vargas threw 179.2 IP and had a 4.16 ERA and a 1.330 WHIP.

Vargas had TJ surgery during the 2015 season, which also caused him to miss most of the 2016 campaign. He returned with a vengeance last year, posting a 12-3 record with a 2.22 ERA the first three months of 2017.

But from July 1 to the end of the year, Vargas was 6-8 with a 6.66 ERA. Opposing batters recorded a .926 OPS against him (with a .311 BABIP) in this stretch.

The 35-year-old lefty throws three pitches, starting with a mid-80s sinking fastball. He also throws a changeup and a curve, with the change being his best pitch. Vargas started throwing his curve more often once he joined the Royals and last year threw it a career-high 20.3 percent of the time, with positive results.

Knowing that Mickey Callaway had success with his pitchers in Cleveland throwing a high number of breaking balls, it will be curious to see if Vargas throws even more curves in 2018 with the Mets.

23 comments for “Mets sign free agent lefty Jason Vargas

  1. Mike Walczak
    February 16, 2018 at 11:49 am

    Good signing. Veteran who fills the Colon role. Don’t give up a draft pick and doesn’t break the bank. Plus, despite his second half, he won 18 games.

    We asked for another starter, now we got him. I am happy. Let’s go Mets. Spring Fever.

    • Steve S.
      February 16, 2018 at 12:06 pm

      I agree that it’s a decent signing, and I’m pleased that the Wilsons seemingly got the message about spending some $$. I would like them to sign a good LH reliever though (how about Tony Watson?).

      BTW, a club option for 2020 is also part of the Vargas deal.

  2. Matt Netter
    February 16, 2018 at 11:51 am

    Good signing. No draft pick comp. I like the idea of a Bobby Ojeda type, junk ball lefty to mix in among the flame throwers for a different look. Now we have rotational stability again.

    But what if everyone’s healthy? Some pretty long odds on that, but if by some miracle all 9 starting caliber pitchers are all healthy and look good in ST, two go to the pen, one to AAA and maybe one gets traded. There’s always a market for affordable starting pitchers.

    Matz/Wheeler/Lugo/Gsellman/Montero compete for the last spot. Let’s say Matz takes it, Lugo is the long man/spot starter, Wheeler becomes a setup man, Gsellman gets sent down and Montero gets traded. Depth is nice. Odds are at least one of them will begin the season on the DL or extended ST though. Given Harvey’s pending free agency, and mental/physical concerns, I’d wait and see on the roster crunch.

    • February 16, 2018 at 11:56 am

      I don’t consider Harvey a sure thing to crack that top 4 anymore.

      Sad as that is to type…

  3. February 16, 2018 at 11:53 am

    Of course, I’d rather have had Lynn or Cobb, but this is a nice move for the rotation.

    Can he pitch out of the ‘pen, though?

  4. February 16, 2018 at 12:16 pm

    MetsBlog/Abriano states that Vargas is a lock for the rotation. I’d make him earn it like everyone else.

    I’d rather go $8 million on Vargas than $12 million or more on Lynn. That said, I’m not doing jumping jacks about this signing. It’s okay, I don’t hate it, but that second half last year scares me some.

  5. Steve S.
    February 16, 2018 at 12:28 pm

    I could see the #4-5 guys in the rotation being Matt Harvey and Steven Matz, with Zack Wheeler as a LH reliever/long man for now, And Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, Chris Flexen, or Rafael Montero might get traded for another LH reliever.

  6. TJ
    February 16, 2018 at 1:03 pm

    Kudos are due here. I like the signing immensely, especially since there seems to be a logical explanation for his massive drop off in the 2nd half last season…hitting the wall after the return from TJS.

    I fully expect Wheeler to be ruffled, and ditto for Matz, Harvey, Gsellman, Lugo, Montero, Flexen, et al. But, this is a good sign, as any anger should be funneled into competitive production. The best 5 should get to the rotation, and should earn the spot. Let the competition begin.

    So we are a LOOGY short of euphoria, even if PECOTA will still plunk the Mets 5+ games behind the Nats (and the Nats may not be done with Arietta and Holland still out there). Nonetheless, when the last piece is added,.I will certainly give Alderson and the owners a thumbs up. And, we’ll never really know if this was the plan all along. So, I will also give Brian kudos, for allowing just enough bellyaching here, despite his migraines, to perhaps contribute a tiny percentage of push that this ownership needed to get it done.

  7. MattyMets
    February 16, 2018 at 1:13 pm

    TJ – I agree with you about the possibility that Vargas hit a wall post TJ. Probably fatigue set in. Some offseason rest and another year removed from surgery he should be good to go.

    As for the Nats, they need to push all their chips into the middle of the table because this is the year they have to win. Harper, Murphy and Gio are all FAs and Rendon will be an expensive arb 3 next winter. Given the backloaded contracts and balloon payments they have coming to Stras and Scherz, they won’t be able to resign half those guys. If I were their GM I’d try to get Holland and/or Lucroy on short-term or front loaded deals. They’ve got a lot of all-stars on that team, but still a few vulnerabilities.

  8. Pete from NJ
    February 16, 2018 at 1:17 pm

    OK done…Filled very hole on the roster(maybe not the lineup but certainly the roster).
    In addition, can you imagine signing Yu Darvish with his long term contract paying a 37 year old pitcher big time money.

    Roster put together for production at a bargain cost. Those guys in the front office have their legs up on the coffee table having an adult drink.

  9. Pete In Iowa
    February 16, 2018 at 1:30 pm

    While I find it hard to get excited about signing Jason Vargas (a #4 at best), I will say it is a good move from a depth/competition/variety standpoint.
    I do like the moves the Mets have made this off season. Now is the time to complete the picture by putting a combination together to get Realmuto. Perhaps TDA, Flores and one of the spare pitchers (Gsellman/Lugo/Montero/Wheeler) would get it done? A good all-around starting catcher puts this club over the top. From what I see on the current roster, that is the one remaining hole which must be addressed.

  10. Chris B
    February 16, 2018 at 2:24 pm

    If Eiland wasn’t around I would have been skeptical but you have to imagine that he’s in tune with the intracies of the drop off last season. Figures it’s something he can fix/won’t be an issue this year (fatigue?).

    I’m glad that they got this done, it would have been mad to assume that the current 9 we’re going to make it all year.

    I’m not convinced that Harvey is in shape, Matz/Wheeler are perpetually injured, Lugo is pitching through a known injury.

  11. TexasGusCC
    February 16, 2018 at 3:41 pm

    The perfect move for this team as Vargas is a lefty and has no QO attachments.

    Interestingly, Wheeler has already said he doesn’t want to go to the bullpen and that he’s a starter and has proven he’s as good as any of the other guys. This is the first test of the new regime. If Eiland and Callaway let him get away with that, they’ll have the same mess Collins created.

    • February 16, 2018 at 7:23 pm

      What do you want him to say? I suck so go ahead and move me? He’s a competitor fighting for his spot.

      • TexasGusCC
        February 16, 2018 at 8:53 pm

        I would expect something more “team” appropriate, and maybe speak to his manager in private. These guys are professionals and should act that way. Cabrera last year, Wheeler this spring and spring training hasn’t started yet?

        You know what I’d do? Let him have his wish, in the minors.

        • February 16, 2018 at 9:18 pm

          Look at it from Wheeler’s POV. He just spend 6 months getting shots in his stomach daily in the hopes that it would allow him to pitch. That’s on top of the rehab he’s already done. He comes to camp fired up ready to go and then they go out and make this signing and right after you find out about it, someone’s sticking a microphone in your face and asking you for your opinion.

          Crucifying him for not having a politically correct answer seems reactionary.

          Here’s a piece I saw on ESPN about Mike Montgomery, who’s going through something similar with the Cubs:

          “Montgomery might be decidedly less excited to return to his job as a long reliever/spot starter. He handled the split role well during the 2017 regular season before running out of gas in the playoffs, when he posted an ERA over 16.62 in just 4.1 innings of work. Then came the offseason, when Montgomery publicly stated he wanted to shed his hybrid role and become a full-time starter. That won’t be happening anytime soon — at least not with the Cubs. And not with a rotation that includes Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana, Tyler Chatwood and now Darvish.

          “I don’t regret saying any of that,” Montgomery indicated. “I was very honest with the team, and I’ll be honest with the fans as well. That’s the best way to handle it.”

          • TexasGusCC
            February 16, 2018 at 11:23 pm


          • Meticated
            February 17, 2018 at 5:07 am

            At great personal suffering physically and psychologically. Just look at the contraindications to the parathyroid medicine that Wheeler injected at risk to his health. He said nothing of the side effects. Simply went about it as a necessary “evil”. Speaks volumes!

  12. Eraff
    February 16, 2018 at 4:03 pm

    6 man rotation???? keeps innings down and saves your ability to condense late year when some guys will hit limits.

    • TexasGusCC
      February 16, 2018 at 5:00 pm

      Callaway has hinted at a six man rotation at certain points in the schedule, but not necessarily every time through. But, to have one of pitchers announce to the press what he wants… that is not a good thing.

    • February 16, 2018 at 7:22 pm

      Callaway said today that a 6-man is unlikely.

  13. Jim OMalley
    February 16, 2018 at 9:02 pm

    Wow. Another signing. Do we really need another bullpen piece?

  14. Meticated
    February 17, 2018 at 4:54 am

    Excellent use of funds without encumbering us with compensation and penalties. Likely he was gassed in the second half of last year. Promising first half bodes well and familiarity with Eiland can be a big advantage. Stating the obvious, simply reinforcing my pleasure in our off season.

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