Mets sign righty Vargas to Minors deal
Former Brewer assigned to extended Spring Training camp
NEW YORK -- To a list that already included the likes of Chan Ho Park, Brian Lawrence, Jose Lima, Alay Soler, Dave Williams, Geremi Gonzalez, Jason Vargas, Nelson Figueroa and Tony Armas Jr., the Mets have added the name Claudio Vargas, another pitcher of less-than-overwhelming resume and potential.
With Orlando Hernandez now on a more distant horizon -- or further in the past -- the club added hired a second, just-in-case Vargas.
This one is 29, right-handed, formerly employed by the Expos/Nationals and D-backs and most recently employed by the Brewers. This Vargas was signed to Minor League contract on Thursday and assigned to the Mets' extended Spring Training camp. He will join the club's Triple-A New Orleans affiliate once he is game-ready and be one of the three pitchers considered -- Armas and Minor Leaguer Adam Bostick are the others -- if the Mets need to add a starting pitcher again this season.
The Mets had been in contact with Vargas' agent, Bean Stringfellow, in the final days of Spring Training and subsequently. But the agent indicated other clubs had greater interest in his client. But once the Mets announced Hernandez had begun wearing a boot on his problematic right foot and that he wouldn't pitch, even in the Minor Leagues, for at least three weeks, Vargas's interest in the Mets increased.
"I can't say exactly what we have in him," general manager Omar Minaya said on Thursday. "But we know he has been a winner on the Major League level, and he's healthy."
Vargas was released by the Brewers on March 25, having produced a 3-1 record and with a 3.86 ERA in five exhibition game. He allowed 17 hits, and six walks and struck out 10 in 18 2/3 innings. Opponents batted .238 against him.
He had an 11-6 record with one save and a 5.09 ERA in 29 games -- 23 starts -- and 134 1/3 innings with the Brewers last season. He allowed 153 hits and 54 walks and struck out 107. The corresponding numbers for him in '06 were 12-10, no saves, 4.83 ERA in 31 games -- 30 starts -- and 167 2/3 innings. He has a 43-38 record and 4.95 ERA in his career, having made 110 starts.
Vargas appears to be a step up from the other pitchers the Mets have deployed in ermergency situations. With Figueroa's first Mets start pending -- he opposes the Brewers on Friday night -- the composite record of Park, Lawrence, Lima, Soler, Williams, Gonzalez and Vargas in the last two seasons is 6-13 in 30 starts.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.