When the Mets signed Jason Vargas to what some (okay, me) considered an ill-advised two-year contract, it begged the question, “who is out of the rotation?” That question still has not been answered.
Obviously Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard are not going anywhere. Vargas is not being paid $16 million to waste away in the bullpen, so it looks like he’s unfortunately in. That leaves Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler to battle for the final two spots.
Assuming everyone leaves Spring Training healthy (a huge assumption, given the Mets history), one of those guys will have to be in the bullpen. And that is not even considering the fates of Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo. The Mets could end up with three unhappy starters waiting their turn in long relief.
Which brings us back to the Vargas contract. When it was announced, many people (not me this time) compared it to signing Bartolo Colon. Well friends, Jason Vargas is not Bartolo Colon. The only thing they have in common is that they are both old. Colon was a Cy Young award winner and was among the better pitchers in the league in his prime. Vargas is the definition of a journeyman, as his just above .500 record and his above four ERA can attest. Vargas did win a career-high 18 games last season, but his strong first half was followed by an ugly collapse over the second half.
Sandy Alderson thinks he signed that first half pitcher, but at age 35, it is likely Vargas is the pitcher who stunk up the mound the rest of the season.
Alderson threw his pitching staff into turmoil just to bring in this so-called innings eater (who, by the way, topped 200 innings only twice in his career, back when he was in his late-20s). There is no upside to Vargas, while there is plenty with whomever he pushes to the bullpen.
I’m sure Jason Vargas is a nice guy and I will be happy if he proves me wrong. But I just don’t see that happening. All I see is a young starter stewing in the bullpen for no reason at all.