A day after the Mets made a big trade to acquire pitcher Marcus Stroman, they returned to “sell” mode by sending Jason Vargas to the Phillies for defense-oriented Double-A catcher Austin Bossart.
Vargas’ final day as a Met continued his resurgent season and boosted the team’s hopes of getting back into wild-card contention. But on Monday, they sent him to one of the clubs they must overtake to get into the postseason. Vargas, 36, leaves with a 6-5 record and a 4.01 earned-run average in a season marked by an angry threat toward a Newsday reporter — an action for which the organization apologized but the pitcher never fully did.
Bossart, 26, is batting only .195 with a .303 on-base percentage and .335 slugging percentage for Reading in the Eastern League. The former 15th-round draft pick out of the University of Pennsylvania is better regarded for his skill behind the plate, having thrown out 115 of 316 baserunners (36 percent) during his five-year minor-league career. In college, he was a teammate of Jeff Wilpon’s son Bradley.
In his final game with the Phillies organization, Bossart hit the deciding run-scoring single in the ninth inning Sunday. He was co-Ivy League Player of the Year as a senior in 2015 and for Class A Clearwater in 2017 he threw out 45 percent of potential base stealers.
The Mets agreed to include cash in the trade, with $2 million for 2020 to offset part of Vargas’ $8 million salary or a $2 million buyout. Still, they will save about $2 million overall because of the Monday trade. With the presence of Stroman, they still have the depth and flexibility to continue to be sellers and trade either Noah Syndergaard or Zack Wheeler before the deadline at 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Vargas was a member of the 2015 champion Royals but had Tommy John surgery and did not pitch against the Mets in the World Series. He started slowly this season, but allowed one or no runs seven times in his past 16 starts.
This marks the second year in a row that the Mets did summertime business with their NL East rival. Last season, they sent Asdrubal Cabrera and Jose Bautista to the Phillies in late July and August, respectively.
Entering play Monday, the Phillies were one game out of the final National League wild-card spot; the Mets were six games out.