Needing to shore up their weak pitching staff last offseason after trading away Ervin Santana and letting Dan Haren walk and sign with the Washington Nationals, the Los Angeles Angels traded once first baseman of the future, Kendrys Morales, to the Seattle Mariners for left-hander Jason Vargas.
Vargas had a pretty solid season, despite missing 50 or so innings with a blood clot in his left armpit. He finished the season with an 9-8 record, 4.02 ERA, 1.39 WHIP and 109 strikeouts. The numbers are and have been consistent with his stat line the past three seasons in Seattle so he will be looking for a nice hefty contract in free agency.
It is getting continuously rare nowadays to have a starting pitcher last six-plus innings a game and Vargas is one of the few who will just eat and eat innings. Despite his stint on the disabled list, Vargas has avoided the DL altogether since 2008 and has had only one arm-related injury in his career.
Working out of the bullpen early on in his career has limited his workload to date which is something good to be said for a 31-year-old as he has been able to churn out innings, even after his almost two months missed this past season, Vargas was able to log 150 innings and brought down his yearly average to a strong 190 innings.
His durability added with the value of a left-hander who is just as strong against right-handed hitters than left-handed hitters, right-handers have a similar .253/.309/.419 batting line while lefties have hit .257/.306/.383 against him, will suit him nicely with potential suitors.
Vargas has had the pleasure in pitching in very pitcher-friendly parks like Seattle’s Safeco Field and Angel Stadium, which is great for a fly-ball pitcher so he might not do well in a place like Philadelphia or Yankee Stadium, especially not in Coors Field so his market may be limited. Away from home, he has struggled to keep the ball in the park as he has posted a 4.61 ERA on the road, allowing 77 home runs on the road as opposed to only 48 home runs at home.
Apart from that, Vargas is also not a strikeout pitcher, despite posting his career-best k/9 ration, it was still a below average 6.5. So his best career is below average which doesn’t spell any good news for suitors. Unless you play in a spacious ballpark, Vargas might not be the best fit for your team.
Vargas isn’t an ace nor close to it, but he is a solid back-end of the rotation type of pitcher that will eat a lot of innings for you as he has consistently racked up 200 or so innings almost every season in his career. The Angels will be smart to re-sign him as he showed promise in his lone season with the team and the Baltimore Orioles showed interest in him this summer. Vargas is a California native and my guess is he will stay in California on a three-year deal around $25M.