The D-backs announced Thursday that they’ve designated infielder Ildemaro Vargas for assignment. The club also optioned righty Yoan Lopez to its alternate training site at Salt River Fields. The pair of moves drops Arizona’s roster from 30 to the newly requisite 28.
Vargas, 29, has a strong Triple-A track record at the plate and plenty of versatility, given that he’s a switch-hitter with more than 1000 innings of experience at each of shortstop, second base and third base. Vargas has also seen time at all three outfield spots and first base, though only a few games’ worth of innings at each slot.
However, despite that versatility, Vargas’ production from Triple-A hasn’t really carried over to the Majors. He’s a career .326/.371/.464 hitter at the top minor league level but has mustered just a .257/.287/.357 slash in the Majors. It’s true that he’s only had 137 plate appearances and never really gotten consistent playing time, but the D-backs clearly feel their other bench options to be superior.
Vargas’ case was surely hurt by the fact that his versatility isn’t exactly unique on a D-backs roster that is rife with Swiss army knives. Newly promoted Andy Young can play all over the infield, just as Vargas can, and top catching prospect Daulton Varsho is somewhat of an anomaly given his ability to capably handle catcher, center field and multiple infield positions. D-backs star Ketel Marte is quite obviously comfortable at second base or in the outfield, and third baseman Eduardo Escobar is no stranger to playing other infield spots as well.
Vargas, meanwhile, was out of minor league options and has only seen eight plate appearances this season in the Majors. Arizona hasn’t been able to find playing time for him, and carrying him as a seldom-used, out-of-options bench piece would’ve effectively reduced their roster size to 27 players. Arizona will have a week to trade Vargas, release him or place him on outright waivers. His Triple-A track record and versatility could get him a look in another organization.