Mets executives aren’t pleased with left-hander Jason Vargas following his recent threat to a reporter in the clubhouse, an unnamed Mets official tells Wallace Matthews of Yahoo Sports. “We’re all angry with him,” says the official before rhetorically asking, “Think he’ll be here next year?” The incident could very well push Vargas out the door before the trade deadline, Matthews writes, as both ownership and the front office are “incensed” that Vargas has not simply apologized — which led to the team fielding questions regarding the incident even during this week’s ceremony to honor Tom Seaver. Matthews cites a second official who was “at a loss to explain Vargas’ hostility,” and COO Jeff Wilpon again addressed the issue and expressed regret and apologies in speaking with Matthews. While the $10K fine issued to Vargas didn’t even qualify as a slap on the wrist, Matthews notes that a team cannot issue a larger fine without being subject to a grievance from the MLBPA. Vargas clearly hasn’t helped his standing with the Mets, but he’s at least pitched well of late; he has a 2.55 ERA with 8.1 K/9, 3.6 BB/9 and a 42 percent grounder rate over his last 11 starts (60 innings).
More Mets chatter as their downward spiral continues…
- Zack Wheeler has had an uneven season but still seems like an obvious trade candidate barring a miraculous turnaround for the Mets. The 29-year-old is a free agent at season’s end, and while he’s sitting on a 4.51 ERA, Wheeler’s 3.75 FIP and 3.88 xFIP are more encouraging. Throw out the first two ugly outings of the season, and Wheeler has a 3.95 ERA with a 106-to-23 K/BB ratio over a span of 98 innings. Wheeler addressed the writing that’s on the wall when speaking with Mike Puma of the New York Post. “It’s there,” said Wheeler. “The trade deadline is coming up and there is no way around it, we need to start winning some games or some guys are going to start getting traded out of here. … It’s tough, because this is where you want to win, it’s New York and these are my guys and this is the group I want to win with.”
- While the Mets look like probable sellers, Anthony DiComo of MLB.com tweets that the team might be a bit quieter than many would expect. Although the organization has little choice but to trade Wheeler, the other moves might not bring a great return. The club will likely try to move Vargas and Todd Frazier for some salary relief, but the returns on such deals would be limited even with Vargas throwing fairly well of late. As Puma writes in his aforementioned column, the Mets’ previous front office regime frequently had to settle for marginal returns on veteran players due to ownership’s unwillingness to pay down much of the salaries still owed to players such as Addison Reed and Jay Bruce, among several others.
- Injured reliever Jeurys Familia is progressing toward a return, DiComo reports. The right-handed Familia, on the injured list with shoulder problems since June 18, was scheduled to begin a rehab assignment Friday at the Single-A level. His rehab stint could last more than just a game or two, DiComo notes, as the Mets would like Familia to show some of his past form before returning to the majors. The Mets reunited with Familia last offseason on a three-year, $30MM contract, which has been a disastrous investment for the team three months into the campaign. The 29-year-old Familia has endured two IL stints because of shoulder troubles and notched a 7.81 ERA/6.11 FIP with 9.11 K/9 and 6.83 BB/9 during the 27 2/3 innings he has pitched.