The Mets iced their offseason with a rotation signing on Friday, inking veteran left-hander Jason Vargas to a two-year, $16 million deal with a club option for 2020, according to a source. The Mets have not confirmed the move, which is pending a physical.
Vargas, 35, went 18-11 with a 4.16 ERA last year for the Royals after missing most of the previous two seasons recovering from Tommy John surgery. Discounting those seasons, Vargas has averaged 188 innings per year since 2010.
As such, he offers the Mets significant rotation insurance in the event that Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler -- all of whom have struggled to stay healthy throughout their careers -- are unable to do so this season. Vargas is likely to join a rotation that will also include some combination of those three, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom. Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo are also vying for jobs this spring.
For most of the offseason, the Mets brushed aside the idea of adding a starting pitcher, preferring to focus on infield and bullpen depth. But an abnormally quiet market kept them engaged, particularly in a tier of arms that included Vargas, Andrew Cashner and Jaime Garcia. Waiting for a "pressure point" in the market, the Mets signed Vargas one day after the other two agreed to terms elsewhere.
The Mets never harbored serious interest in Lance Lynn or Alex Cobb, who have Draft-pick compensation tied to them.
On some levels, the Mets are already familiar with Vargas. He pitched briefly for them in 2007, after then-general manager Omar Minaya -- now a Mets special assistant -- traded for the left-hander. Vargas also spent four years working under Mets pitching coach Dave Eiland in Kansas City, and his agency, CAA, has strong ties with the Mets' front office. In recent years, the two parties have worked out deals for Yoenis Cespedes, Todd Frazier, Tim Tebow and now Vargas.
Overall in 12 seasons with the Marlins, Mets, Mariners, Angels and Royals, Vargas is 85-81 with a 4.17 ERA.