Claudio Vargas Rumors
Earlier this week Pedro Martinez pulled a hamstring in his first start of '08 and is expected to be out until mid-May. The loss of Martinez will likely only cost the Mets seven to eight starts, which might only be a difference in two to three wins over that span. Of course, two or three more wins in '07 and the Mets would have spent October in the playoffs. With the importance of every single start magnified this year for the Mets, it would not be surprising for Omar Minaya to seek outside help as a contingency plan for Martinez (who at this point in his career cannot be counted on to stay healthy for any length of time). One long shot is Rich Harden, whom the A's may be auditioning for possible suitors. Let's take a look at what is being said in the Blogophere...
- The 'Ropolitans don't see the Mets trading any more players in the near future, especially for an injury-riddled player such as Harden.
- Mets Fever doesn't think the Mets have the pieces to land Harden and would rather see the money go to Oliver Perez after the season.
- Mets Merized thinks that Claudio Vargas would provide the Mets with some stability but if he isn't willing to accept a minor league deal they feel the Mets have plenty of in-house options...Mets Merized also feels that the loss of Martinez will not have an effect on the Mets' championship hopes.
- MetsBlog comments on the Vargas rumors and says that a backup plan for Martinez should be Minaya's number one priority...MetsBlog also notes that the Mets should stay away from Harden as he will certainly cost Fernando Martinez.
- Faith and Fear in Flushing is reminded of Mets injuries from years past and won't be expecting any contribution from Martinez in the near future.
David Lennon of Newsday talked to Claudio Vargas' agent, Bean Stringfellow. Stringfellow indicated that the Mets are not the right situation for his client. That may be because the Mets want to send Vargas to Triple A, as Jayson Stark suggested yesterday.
The Mets are not completely out of the picture, but Stringfellow is looking for better opportunities and may get a contract for Vargas by the weekend. Apparently a deal with another team was close but fell through.
The Angels could work, as could the Mariners if they want to use Miguel Batista as their closer for a while. The Astros, Phillies, and Braves should probably consider Vargas as well. That's all just my speculation, though.
ESPN's Jayson Stark has a new Rumblings and Grumblings up; let's take a look.
- Stark surveyed execs from three teams about why Barry Bonds remains unemployed. They provided the answers you'd expect, and collusion isn't one of them. One of the team officials believes a major injury to one of the 14 DHs could very well result in a Bonds signing. Related note: Gary Sheffield just tore a tendon in his finger. Meanwhile, Joel Sherman speculates that Bonds would be a nice match with the Blue Jays.
- There are signs that Ryan Howard wants an unprecedented contract - he won't be using Miguel Cabrera as his model. A trade before he reaches free agency (after the 2010 season) seems likely.
- Stark says the Mets are eyeing Claudio Vargas but would want him to work at Triple A for a while first. They're not showing interest in available guys like David Wells, Jeff Weaver, or Robinson Tejeda. David Lennon of Newsday counters by saying the Mets do have interest in Tejeda, though nothing is close.
Ken Rosenthal has his latest column up at FoxSports.com. As usual he is not shy about stirring up rumors. Let's take a look at what the rumor-guru has to say:
- Rosenthal notes that the Dodgers will go with Blake DeWitt at third base who has never played a game above AA. This comes after the Dodgers failed to acquire either the Astros' Mark Loretta, who was unavailable and the Royals' Esteban German, who was too expensive. The Royals were asking for the Dodgers' third best prospect, shortstop Chin-Lung Hu.
- He indicates that the Padres and the Rays are pursuing Matt Murton but the Cubs are holding out for a top pitching prospect in return, knowing Murton will be a starter on another club. Rosenthal quotes one GM as saying that the price "is way too high as of now". As many as five teams have shown interest in Murton.
- The Mets are among a dozen teams that have inquired about Brewers pitcher Claudio Vargas, who will not be in the rotation to begin the season. [Update: Sorry about this one. I had forgotten that the Brewers released Vargas earlier this week]
- The Reds have put Ryan Freel on the market, but more teams appear to be interested in Scott Hatteberg. However, Rosenthal indicates that it is unlikely for the Red to trade Hatteberg even if Joey Votto is named the starter.
- The Tigers, Reds and Orioles all tried to acquire backup catcher Brayan Pena from the Braves, but the Braves do not appear interested in letting him go
- Rosenthal says that Pat Gillick's history in Seattle may have played a part in the Phillies inability to land M's reliever Cha Seung Baek, who is out of options but made the roster as a reliever.
- Finally, Rosenthal notes that Mike Piazza is still working out with hopes of landing a gig at some point in '08. Rosenthal thinks that Piazza may have to come to the realization soon that his career may be over.
The Mets are currently considering Orlando Hernandez, Mike Pelfrey, and Jorge Sosa for their fifth starter job. A little more depth wouldn't hurt. According to Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post, Omar Minaya said the Mets "will have a strong interest" in Claudio Vargas. Minaya once traded for Vargas as GM of the Expos.
My gut says Vargas could be solid with the Mets. His strikeout rate and control never seemed to match up with his ERA. If Rick Peterson could help him keep the ball in the yard, a low 4s ERA over 180 innings seems possible. There doesn't seem to be much downside to signing him.
According to Tom Haudricourt, the Brewers have released 29 year-old starter Claudio Vargas. It's a very surprising move. The Brewers save $2.7MM with the move. Just like that, the Brewers' starting pitching surplus is pretty much gone.
Even if the ERAs haven't been there, you have to credit Vargas for good peripheral stats (6.43 K/9, 3.48 BB/9 for his career). To me he's an affordable #4 starter with the chance to post 175 innings of 4.50 ball. All sorts of pitching-starved clubs should be vying for his services. Joel Sherman notes Omar Minaya's history with Vargas.
The Brewers have no interest in Pedro Feliz, according to Tom Haudricourt. Not a big surprise; why would they trade Bill Hall to sign Feliz? Hall seems likely to stay put, though it'd be surprising if Dave Bush, Claudio Vargas, and Chris Capuano all do.
MLB.com's Adam McCalvy posted a Brewers article yesterday that's worthy of discussion.
- One reliever Doug Melvin has considered that I hadn't heard before: Eddie Guardado. Hey, at least he'd come cheap.
- Players like Rickie Weeks, J.J. Hardy, and Corey Hart won't be moved. No surprise there.
- McCalvy says Melvin confirmed having internal discussions about Scott Rolen. Would John Mozeliak trade him within the division? More importantly, would the Brewers take on the money and injury risk? The obvious match would be to send a starter over to St. Louis for Rolen.
- Which starters are available? Though you can never have too much pitching, Dave Bush, Chris Capuano, or Claudio Vargas might be considered expendable. Their salaries will all be rising as they are arbitration-eligible. None will be non-tendered.
- Aside from Rolen, another unlikely possibility is Andruw Jones. Melvin did at least speak to Scott Boras about him. Moves for Rolen or Jones would of course involve moving Ryan Braun and/or Bill Hall to other positions, something Melvin prefers not to do.
- If Melvin can't trade Kevin Mench at the Winter Meetings, he'll probably be non-tendered.
- By the way, Tom Haudricourt echoes the Rolen and Jones rumors in his blog this afternoon.
Ben Shpigel of the New York Times has some new Mets info for us today.
- Surprisingly, Shpigel believes the one free agent starter the Mets will seriously consider is Livan Hernandez. That is odd because I had read Livan wasn't high on Omar Minaya's list. We've seen the Mets connected to free agents Byung-Hyun Kim, Carlos Silva, Hiroki Kuroda, Kyle Lohse, and Jason Jennings so far this offseason.
- As far as some unsung trade opportunities, my Mets guy says Ervin Santana, Chris Capuano, Claudio Vargas, and Noah Lowry are being considered.
- According to Shpigel, the Mets hope to re-sign Ramon Castro as their backup catcher. I don't see that happening, as he'll probably be able to snag a starting job elsewhere. Options the Mets are considering to start at catcher include Yorvit Torrealba, Ramon Hernandez, Ronny Paulino, Gerald Laird, and Paul Lo Duca. A source tells me the D'Backs' Miguel Montero may also be on the radar.
- Shpigel says Luis Castillo might command a four-year deal. Say what? The Mets may yet re-sign Castillo but want to see what the trade market offers first. Shpigel names Orlando Hudson, while I've also heard Alberto Callaspo.