If you follow our sister site over at the Pinstriped Prospects you can follow along with the Yankees signing LHP Gio Gonzalez to a minor league deal back in March. This deal allows Gonzalez to opt out by April 20, 2019, if he was not on the MLB Roster. He isn’t, and that date is tomorrow. With the struggles, the New York Mets are facing with their starting rotation to start the season I’ve seen a lot of fans and media members alike express that Gonzalez might be a fit on the Mets as an upgrade to LHP Jason Vargas.
On paper, Gio Gonzalez would be an upgrade from the struggling Vargas, but as the opt-out date grows closer I can’t help but feel that this is increasingly unlikely. Vargas has struggled early with a 14.21 ERA so far this season. The lefty has also allowed three home runs so far and when you watch him play, you can’t help but see many of the same struggles Vargas had last year on the Mets. In 2018 the lefty threw a 5.77 ERA with 18 home runs allowed and went 7-9 on the season. Lots of vocal fans are done with Vargas and are looking for a change, any change.
On Friday Mark Feinsand of mlb.com, reported that Gonzalez has switched from being represented by Scott Boras to being represented by Creative Arts Agency (CAA). It’s important to note that Brodie Van Wagenen, the current general manager of the New York Mets was a player agent prior to running the front office and was with CAA. In fact, it was Van Wagenen that helped negotiate many of the contracts from the number of players that are represented by CAA that are wearing Mets uniforms.
Current players in the Mets organization that are also represented by CAA include OF Tim Tebow (Triple-A), LHP David Peterson (Double-A), RHP Noah Syndergaard, OF Brandon Nimmo, RHP Robert Gsellman, 3B Todd Frazier, OF Yoenis Cespedes, RHP Jacob deGrom, and most notably ─ LHP Jason Vargas.
While some might see the ties between the Mets and CAA to strongly increase chances of Van Wagenen coming with a deal with Gonzalez because of agency ties ─ I’m not as easily convinced.
Baseball players rely on agencies to assist them in contract negotiations with teams. Agencies make more money the more players they have signed as they usually take a percentage of the deal as their income. I’m not convinced based on that, that CAA would want to put on of their clients in a situation on a team where they might win a job over another client, in this case Vargas. While fans may want Gonzalez to replace Vargas, mathematics determines that two jobs are better than one, and so CAA ties might hurt the chances of a deal between Gonzalez and the Mets. The agency change alone doesn’t necessarily mean that this is going to be a sure thing.
Gonzalez likely remained unsigned going into this season because he was looking for a multi-year MLB deal. Coming off of a minor league deal, (assuming Gonzalez parts ways with the Yankees on the 20th) it’d be interesting to see what kind of deal Gonzalez would be looking for. Most teams have spent their budgets on the roster so the money Gonzalez would be looking for could be a large contributing factor. The Mets currently are in the upper echelon in Major League Baseball when it comes to their payroll, ranked tenth. The only other National League East team that has a higher payroll then the Mets is the Washington Nationals.
On a positive note, Gonzalez has been largely successful at Citi Field. For his career spanning eight years where Gonzalez has played at Citi Field, he is 11-2 with a 1.75 ERA with only 5 home runs allowed and a .846 win-loss percentage. Those numbers ─ way more than the agency the lefty is with makes the Mets a likely candidate for Gonzalez.
His assignment to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre has been a spring training of sorts for Gonzalez, with him signing so late and having only one game in major league spring training and one in minor league spring training. His first start didn’t go so great against the Buffalo Bisons (Triple-A, Toronto Blue Jays).
During the offseason, the Mets did not see Gonzalez as an upgrade for Vargas and comments made by Van Wagenen and Mets Manager Mickey Callaway seem to point to the Mets trying to make this rotation work with Jason Vargas. Just because there was an agency change doesn’t necessarily mean that Gonzalez to the Mets is a sure thing, it’s likely a longer shot than you think.