D-backs trade for young power righty, set 40-man roster

Prospects Alexander, Barrosa, Fletcher, Martinez protected from Rule 5 Draft

November 16th, 2022

PHOENIX -- The D-backs wanted to upgrade their bullpen this winter and add some more power arms to the mix.

They feel they took a step forward in both directions Tuesday by acquiring right-hander from the Guardians in exchange for Minor League right-hander Ross Carver.

Vargas, 23, was originally signed by the Guardians for $275,000 as an international free agent in 2016 and worked his way up their Minor League system. He missed the 2020 season due to the pandemic and then all of 2021 following Tommy John surgery that April.

Last year, he appeared in 19 games for Double-A Akron and eight for Triple-A Columbus, combining for a 3.67 ERA.

More importantly for the D-backs is that Vargas' fastball can hit 100-plus mph and he can complement that with a power slider in the low 90s.

"It was an attempt for us to get a power arm. He is up over 100 [mph] with his fastball," D-backs GM Mike Hazen said. "We’re banking on the stuff here coming in and playing a role for us. We were pretty excited to get him."

As the D-backs looked over roster situations recently, Vargas was one of the names they circled as having interest in if the Guardians made him available. When they did, the D-backs jumped on it.

While Vargas has electric stuff, his command is still a work in progress. He walked 17 and struck out 37 in 34 1/3 innings in 2022.

"We’ve talked about our bullpen in the past," Hazen said. "I feel like I have erred on the side of command, out making, pitch making [when acquiring relievers] and I still believe there is a fundamental role to that. And for Carlos, cleaning up the walks a little bit is definitely something that still needs to come. You’re not going to have your best command when you’re first coming back [from injury].

"But we lack power in our bullpen, hard stuff, swing-and-miss stuff; we put too many balls in play late in innings relative to other bullpens in the league. These are some of the chances and the risks that we’re going to start taking."

In other news, the D-backs added infielder (ranked as the team's No. 14 prospect), outfielder (No. 18), outfielder (No. 13) and right-hander (No. 30) to the 40-man roster in order to protect them from being eligible to be picked in next month's Rule 5 Draft.

To make room on the roster, the D-backs designated infielder Sergio Alcantara, outfielder Stone Garrett, outfielder Jordan Luplow and left-hander Caleb Smith for assignment.

Luplow and Smith were eligible for salary arbitration and likely would have been non-tendered anyway.