Mets free agent retrospective: The Jason Vargas signing in 2018

Atlanta Braves v New York Mets
Atlanta Braves v New York Mets / Rich Schultz/GettyImages

The 2018 New York Mets season started off so well then took such a major nose dive. One of the reasons for it was a lack of quality additions in the offseason. It was a winter that brought back Jay Bruce, brought in Todd Frazier, and introduced Mets fans to a guy who hadn’t pitched for the team since 2007, Jason Vargas.

Vargas put together a fine career before joining the Mets. He got a ring with the 2015 Kansas City Royals although he never did appear in a game due to an injury. On February 18, 2018, he agreed to a two-year deal worth $16 million.

Things got off to a bad start. An injury sidelined him until April 28 when he finally made his debut and got off to a rocky start with the Mets.

Looking back at the Mets free agent signing of Jason Vargas in 2018

In 3.2 innings of work, the San Diego Padres managed to score 9 earned runs against Vargas. He’d start a few days later only to allow 6 more earned runs in 4.2 innings. This time, the rival Atlanta Braves were the ones doing the damage. 

Big losses were frequent early on for Vargas. He threw some incredible duds. He rarely gave the team much length at all. In fact, it wasn’t until Game 159 of the season when Vargas finally went beyond 6 innings. Seven shutout innings against the Braves in his final start of the year helped drop his ERA down from 6.25 to a still scary 5.77.

Vargas returned the following season to give the Mets a 6-5, 4.01 ERA performance in 94.1 innings of work. He ended up getting traded to the Philadelphia Phillies at the deadline, helping to secure a late-season collapse by them in 2019. It was probably the best contribution he made while with the Mets.

Vargas’ most memorable event while in blue and orange came when he tried to fight Mets beat reporter Tim Healey. Tensions were high with the ball club. The 2019 ball club was a complete circus and somehow the club made a late-season charge toward the postseason.

One of the final free agent signings during the Wilpon Era, Vargas is a solid representation of where the team reached and missed. He signed with the Mets a year after leading the American League with 18 wins. Something tells me the front office put a little too much faith in wins having much meaning. It was with the 2018 Mets when Jacob deGrom taught us all their meaninglessness.

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