The Royals have signed left-handed starter Jason Vargas to a four year deal worth $32 million. In Vargas, the Royals are acquiring a pitcher who had averaged over 200 innings the three years prior to 2013 when he missed time with a blood clot that is considered to be a bit of a freak injury. Vargas went 9-8 with a 4.02 ERA last year in 24 starts with the Angels, throwing 150 innings. He doesn’t strike out many batters and he also doesn’t walk too many. Vargas does get a considerable amount of flyballs, so Kauffman Stadium might be a good fit for him moving forward.
He made a name for himself with the Seattle Mariners, posting a 33-36 record with a 3.96 ERA after moving to the rotation full time. He’s your classic finesse lefty. He doesn’t throw very hard, sitting at 88-90 with his fastball and throws a decent changeup and a curve. He’s not exactly what you’d call a top of the rotation starter, but he can fill a role of veteran depth in the rotation. His fastball was hit very hard this past season, but he hasn’t been as bad previously in his career.
On the whole, this move is fine. Signing Vargas probably improves the Royals rotation, but it’s simply not enough to give them a playoff rotation as I don’t see him as much more than a left-handed Jeremy Guthrie. The length of the contract is pretty surprising to me as I didn’t think he’d get more than three years, nor does he deserve it, in my opinion. He’ll be 31 next year and while left-handed pitchers like him typically age decently, I just think that’s four years of mediocre pitching. I don’t mind signing Vargas, but I just don’t like that he’s a part of the team for four full seasons.
One thing I just noted on Twitter is that with the money so relatively low, Vargas can be traded fairly easily at just about any time.
If this is the first of two or three moves, then I think it could be a nice setup for this team moving forward, but if he is the last of the rotation upgrades, the 2014 Royals are going to struggle to match what the 2013 Royals put up. I do like that Vargas isn’t a guy prone to wild swings necessarily, but I just think he’s far too average for him to be the big addition to a rotation looking to compete for a division title in 2014. So yeah, the move itself is just average, but I don’t think it does a good enough job of filling the Royals needs.
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