The Mets signed LHP Jason Vargas to a 2-year/$16 million contract Friday, according to Anthony DiComo.
The 34-year old southpaw had a resurgent 2017 season after missing the majority of the previous two seasons from Tommy John surgery, pitching with a record of 18-11 in 179.2 innings with an ERA of 4.16 and an FIP of 4.67. Vargas also earned his first career All-Star appearance in 2017. Vargas began the first half of the 2017 season as a strong Cy Young candidate, going 12-3 with an ERA of 2.62 and a BABIP of .277. However, Vargas ended up floundering in the second half of the season, pitching with a record of 6-8 with an ERA of 6.38 and a BABIP of .309.
Although Vargas has the fourth-slowest fastball among qualified pitchers (86.1 mph), Vargas found much of his success on the mound last season from his shifty changeup that could generate plenty of swings and misses. According to PitchF/X, Vargas had the 13th highest whiff/swing% among starting pitchers in 2017, coming in around 37.19%. Vargas also forced batters into hitting many ground balls when they faced his changeup. Vargas threw for a 45% groundball rate for his change ups, good enough for 59th-best among starters.
There have been rumblings around the league for the past couple of weeks that the Mets would sign either Alex Cobb or Lance Lynn to a contract, with the caveat of losing a second round draft pick and over $500,000 in international free agent pool money if they were to sign either of the pitchers. By signing Vargas, the Mets will still retain their second round draft pick and their $500,000 of international free agent pool money.
With Vargas tallying close to 180 innings last season, he can be relied on to remain healthy for the majority of the season and shore up the back end of a rotation that is saturated with uncertainty.
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Stats provided by PitchF/X, FanGraphs, and BaseballReference