Phillies pick up starter Jason Vargas: Will it be enough?
The Phillies made a much-needed addition to the starting rotation, trading for Jason Vargas from the Mets. Will it be enough to make a difference, though?
After weeks of speculation and rumors, the Phillies finally added a starting pitcher, although it wasn’t one they were linked to. The team announced that they acquired Jason Vargas and cash from the Mets in exchange for Double-A catcher Austin Bossart.
Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported that the Mets will send $2.9 million to Philadelphia as part of the deal, paying the rest of his salary for the year. On the tail end, it will be up to the Phillies to pay Vargas’s $8 million club option for 2020 or buy him out for $2 million.
General manager Matt Klentak said Vargas would start this weekend versus the White Sox. Klentak didn’t specify whose spot Vargas will take in the rotation, but it will most likely be either Vince Velasquez or Zach Eflin. Neither has performed well this year, with Eflin especially taking a sharp turn downward in July.
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Vargas certainly would be an upgrade over either of those two, although he isn’t blowing the doors off this year. In 19 appearances this year, he has a 4.01 ERA, 4.71 fielding-independent pitching, 1.272 WHIP, and 2.08 strikeout to walk ratio. His 1.6 Baseball-Reference wins above replacement this year would be second-most among Phillies pitchers behind only Aaron Nola.
This trade is precisely the kind Klentak and the front office said they were going to make: a marginal upgrade to shore up the group already in place. Barring something completely unseen, the team is going to look mainly the same after the deadline as it did before.
Had Philadelphia won the series with the Braves or even swept them over the weekend, they may have been more aggressive making trades. However, they are now 6.5 games back of Atlanta and third place in the division. On top of that, they rank fourth in the NL wild-card standings, one game back of the Nationals and Cardinals, who are both tied for the second spot.
With Philadelphia not in an excellent position to go all-in, any more moves before Wednesday’s trade deadline will likely be similar to this one.