The New York Mets traded one of their pitchers — but not the headline grabbers.
One day after acquiring Marcus Stroman from the Toronto Blue Jays, the Mets cleared a spot in their rotation for Stroman by trading Jason Vargas to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for Double-A catcher Austin Bossart, the Mets announced.
The Phillies are also receiving cash in the deal.
The Mets can make waves this week by trading Noah Syndergaard and/or Zack Wheeler, both of whom they are open to dealing, but they first cleared a rotation spot for Stroman, who likely will debut this weekend against Pittsburgh.
Like Wheeler, Vargas will be a free agent at the end of the season, and Mets sources had previously told Yahoo Sports they did not expect him back. Vargas’ lack of remorse after threatening to assault a reporter did not sit well with many.
The 36-year-old actually owned the second-lowest ERA of any Mets starter with a 4.01 mark spanning 19 games. After a rough start to his Mets tenure last year, Vargas has actually been pretty reliable the last year or so.
The lefty should help a Phillies rotation that lacks consistency beyond ace Aaron Nola, although Vargas could struggle at Citizens Bank Park since he’s a fly-ball pitcher. The Phillies’ rotation entered Monday ranked 18th with a 4.65 ERA.
The Phillies had shown interest in Vargas and Mets third baseman Todd Frazier a few weeks ago, per a source, before finally making the trade Monday afternoon.
It’s unknown which starter Vargas will replace in the Phillies’ rotation, but he will have the second-lowest ERA on the staff among those with more than one start.
This deal is the third between the Mets and Phillies dating to last year with the Mets sending Asdrubal Cabrera and Jose Bautista last year.
It’s notable that the Mets were willing to send Vargas to the Phillies, a team they are chasing in the NL wild card race. The Mets are still trying to win in 2019, as shown by the Stroman trade, yet they may have helped the Phillies’ chances.
The Mets currently own a 12.5 percent chance of making the playoffs while the Phillies have a 24.6 percent chance, per Fangraphs.
The Phillies are sending the Mets a defensive-oriented catcher in Bossart, who has thrown out 3.64 percent of base runners in the minors.
Bossart, who played at Penn with Bradley Wilpon, the son of Mets COO Jeff Wilpon, is hitting just .195 in his second season in Double-A.
He was not ranked among the Phillies’ top 30 prospects according to MLB.com.
“He’s OK,” one scout said. “[The Phillies] have three younger guys that are better.”
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