Mets: Who is this Austin Bossart guy from the Jason Vargas trade?
By Allen Settle
This week, the New York Mets traded Jason Vargas to the Philadelphia Phillies for minor league catcher Austin Bossart. Let’s get to know the man heading to the Mets franchise.
The New York Mets busy 2019 season continued when the team traded veteran pitcher Jason Vargas to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for catching prospect Austin Bossart.
The Mets, who clearly established themselves as trade deadline buyers with the recent acquisition of Marcus Stroman, were able to use Vargas to get something back in return.
While Bossart is considered to be a low-level prospect, he does have an interesting skillset. The 14th round pick in the 2015 MLB draft has a meager .195 batting average through the first 63 games with Double-A Reading. During his last year in college at Pennsylvania, the catcher was a semifinalist for the Johnny Bench Award (for the nation’s best catcher) and was selected as the Co-Ivy League Player of the Year.
Bossart has shown clear limitations as a hitter. However, he is universally considered to be a great defender behind the plate. He has a 99% fielding percentage in his career and has thrown out at least 20 runners attempting to steal in each of the past four seasons.
The Player Comp
It’s clear that this is not the second coming of Mike Piazza. Bossart has limitations. Realistically, the best-case scenario for this move is that the young catcher can continue to develop into a defensive specialist at the major league level. Considering what the Mets’ sacrificed in the trade, Bossart would be a success even if his ceiling is as a platoon player or personal catcher.
Based on Bossart’s current career arc, it seems as though longtime defensive specialist Martin Maldonado could be a good player comparison. Both backstops have similar metrics and reputations. Maldonado also posted a very comparable .236 batting average and .988 fielding percentage during nine seasons at the minor league level. While Bossart will likely never get the playing time to win a Gold Glove award, Mets fans are hoping that he provides depth to the major league roster down the road.
The Overblown Headline
Despite the fact that the Mets were able to turn an older, struggling, pitcher into a potentially valuable young player, some of the focus has been misplaced. After the trade, reports started to emerge stating that Bossart was a college teammate of Mets CEO Jeff Wilpon’s son Bradley. Considering the poor reputation of Mets’ ownership in the eyes of the team’s fans, there was an immediate assumption that the relationship had caused the team to make a bad trade.
However, it is important to consider the facts behind this connection. Bossart and Bradley Wilpon played only one season together at Penn. Bradley has also since stepped away from baseball completely.
While this connection makes a good headline, in reality, there is very little substance to the story. There is no extended nepotism taking place in this deal. The Mets simply used Vargas to get the best return they could.
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Overall, the Vargas trade is a win for the Mets. While Vargas had pitched well for the team recently, he was still a 36-year-old pitcher with a reputation for inconsistency. The fact that General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen was able to find a trade partner in need of pitching and use Vargas to add to the Mets’ farm system is a definite victory.