Esch, who just turned 27, reached the majors for the first time last year. Though he didn’t have much opportunity to prove himself in only three outings, and surrendered four home runs in just 13 innings, he showed an arsenal that Pitch F/X classified as featuring six distinct pitches.
While Esch has hardly dominated in the minors, perhaps San Diego believes there’s a chance he could function as a useful starter or swingman. He has pitched in the upper minors in each of the past two seasons. In 2016, he recorded a 4.31 ERA with 6.1 K/9 against 2.9 BB/9 over 142 frames, most of them coming at the Double-A level.
As for Vargas, 25, the move surely comes as a bit of a surprise. He had shown a solid K/BB rate in the upper minors over the past few seasons, mostly in relief, and earned a surprising shot at the Padres’ rotation in 2016. Vargas was bombed in his final outing before leaving with an injury that turned out to be a season-ending flexor strain. Prior to that unfortunate turn, though, he threw 32 2/3 innings of 3.34 ERA ball over six starts.