The Mets are maintaining “solid interest” in free-agent lefty Jason Vargas, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post. The 35-year-old Vargas should would give the Mets some much-needed stability at the back of the rotation and could presumably be had on a short-term commitment.
Vargas recently wrapped up a four-year, $32MM contract with the Royals that featured a pair of healthy seasons in the first and last years of the contract, while the middle two (2015-16) were largely wiped out by Tommy John surgery. In his first full season back from surgery, Vargas made 32 starts for Kansas City, totaling 179 1/3 innings and being named to the All-Star team for the first time in a career that has spanned parts of 12 seasons.
That All-Star berth came on the heels of a 2.22 ERA through the season’s first three months, though Vargas achieved that mark by stranding an unsustainable 86 percent of the baserunners he allowed. That number came crashing back to Earth in the season’s second half (69.3 percent), and the pristine control that Vargas showed through the season’s first 101 innings eluded him, as he averaged 3.9 walks per nine innings pitched over his final 16 starts.
Vargas pitched to a 6.66 ERA in those 16 starts, leaving his final 2017 numbers looking solid but not especially impressive. The lefty turned in a 4.16 ERA with 6.7 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 1.35 HR/9 and a 40.3 percent ground-ball rate. That work is a fairly close match for the 4.01 ERA he turned in over 1082 2/3 innings from 2009-15 upon establishing himself as a big league regular up until his 2015 Tommy John procedure.
Suffice it to say, Vargas wouldn’t give the Mets a massive boost at the top of their rotation. He would, however, be a fairly reliable source of innings in the middle of their rotation, and few teams could use stable innings to round out their starting corps more than the Mets. Only Jacob deGrom managed a full, healthy season in the Mets’ once-vaunted rotation last year, as Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman all saw significant time on the disabled list. Mets starters posted a collective 5.14 ERA and totaled just 865 2/3 innings in 2017, both of which were the fourth-worst marks among all 30 Major League teams.