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Royals sign Jason Vargas to four-year, $32 million contract

Nov 21, 2013, 4:12 PM EDT

Jason Vargas AP

Ervin Santana is almost certain to leave Kansas City as a free agent and the Royals announced that they’ve replaced him in the rotation with Jason Vargas, signing the left-hander to a four-year contract. Ken Rosenthal of says it’s worth $32 million.

Vargas was traded from the Mariners to the Angels for Kendrys Morales last offseason and threw 150 innings with a 4.02 ERA, missing time with a blood clot in his arm pit.

He’s a 30-year-old soft-tosser with a 4.30 career ERA, but Kansas City should be a good home ballpark for masking Vargas’ homer-related issues and before the blood cot he’d thrown 193, 201, and 217 innings the previous three seasons.

Vargas is a decent enough mid-rotation starter, but much like with Jeremy Guthrie last offseason the Royals are making a very long and expensive commitment to a mediocre 30-something starter. The Angels didn’t make Vargas a qualifying offer for fear he’d accept the one-year, $14.1 million deal, so they won’t get any compensation for his departure and he won’t cost the Royals a draft pick.

  1. phillysports1 - Nov 21, 2013 at 4:20 PM

    Do they think they’re going to be a playoff contender with him in the rotation ? Haha

  2. kcroyal - Nov 21, 2013 at 4:21 PM

    Dayton strikes again. 4 years? Ugh can we please get a legitimate GM? James Shields and a bunch of number 5 starters. This should end well.

    • dwrek5 - Nov 21, 2013 at 5:13 PM

      $8mil though. Not bad.

  3. normanbrennen - Nov 21, 2013 at 4:23 PM

    The Royals do love their soft tossing lefties…wonder if Jamie Moyer could squeeze a few million from them

  4. NYTolstoy - Nov 21, 2013 at 4:25 PM

    This is a strange signing. Seems a little to early to jump the gun, but it is only 8 a year so its not that expensive and he’s a left hander who has had succes. He’s no hard thrower so as he ages it shouldn’t Affect his skills too much. With Shields in front and Guthrie and Vargas in the middle the rotation is ok. Maybe they should of tried a trade for another starter, since there farm system is pretty solid but oh well. I wonder if the reason they didn’t go after Santana this year is so they could go after Shields next year and really open the bank.

  5. xdj511 - Nov 21, 2013 at 4:29 PM

    A 4 year, 32 million dollar contract for a soft-tossing leftie passing his prime years? By a small market team, no less? If you haven’t already, it may be time to stock up on canned goods and other non-perishable items.

    • dwrek5 - Nov 21, 2013 at 5:15 PM

      Its not 2004, $32 is small $’s these days…

  6. gdobs227 - Nov 21, 2013 at 4:30 PM

    Anyone else reminded of Gil Meche?

    • robmoore - Nov 21, 2013 at 8:19 PM

      Not particularly – Gil Meche was younger, IIRC, and had much better stuff. Not as durable though.

  7. nuggets43 - Nov 21, 2013 at 4:39 PM

    This guy… this is not my kind of guy.

    • bolweevils2 - Nov 22, 2013 at 9:56 AM

      He’s apparently married already, so…

  8. DJ MC - Nov 21, 2013 at 4:43 PM

    As the great robot philosopher Bender Bending Rodriguez one said: “Oh wait, you’re serious. Let me laugh even harder.”

  9. paperlions - Nov 21, 2013 at 4:57 PM

    How is KC supposed to help mask his homer prone stuff when he has been pitching in Seattle (pre fences being moved in) and Anaheim? Neither of those parks are exactly launching pads. A guy that is below league average in run prevention is not a mid-rotation starter, he’s a back of the rotation guy with no upside…..and they get 4 year of it. Nicely done.

  10. losangelesfan - Nov 21, 2013 at 5:06 PM

    I’m gonna knock up my girlfriend, have a son and force him to throw lefthanded.

  11. buffalo65 - Nov 21, 2013 at 5:06 PM

    Good signing, hate to say it but 8 million is chump change for 200 innings. He isn’t going to lead the rotation but is a piece.

  12. sportsdrenched - Nov 21, 2013 at 5:17 PM

    I’m Ok with the money numbers. The length is a little long in the tooth. But, that seems to be market for such things.

    My biggest thing is; is he supposed to replace Santana’s production and be the number 2 guy? I hope that’s not what the Front Office is thinking. It’s almost like they said: “Hey, we got a left hander who gave up a lot of home runs from Anahiem last year and that worked out pretty good. Let’s go get Vargas and see what happens!”

    • dwrek5 - Nov 21, 2013 at 5:23 PM

      Im thinking they have another move in them and Duffy another season past surgery. So I think their looking to slot Vargas and Guthrie 4/5.

  13. weaselpuppy - Nov 21, 2013 at 5:25 PM

    They had better hope two of Duffy Paulino Zimmer and Ventura become #2 level starters this and next year…cheap Santana production replacements

    It’s not a bad gamble, but yeah, he’s Gil Meche, essentially….

    Until they up their payroll to include a big time run producing bat in addition to hoping one of those kids is a legit top of the rotation arm, they aren’t playing in the postseason.

  14. sportsdrenched - Nov 21, 2013 at 5:54 PM

    I see some Gil Meche bashing here. That Gil Meche contract was a contract the Royals needed to make at the time. They got 2.5 season of excellent production out of Meche. The problem wasn’t the contract itself. It was the handling of Gil Meche by Trey Hillman.

    • weaselpuppy - Nov 21, 2013 at 7:37 PM

      Meche signed a 4/$43MM deal in 2007, which in today’s dollars is more like a 4/54, so essentially a Mark Buehrle deal…..while being nothing near Buehrle’s level of player, having come into the deal with 100 starts in 4 years of 4.7 ERA 89 ERA+ type throwing. Also known as “punching bag”.

      Now, if you compare his performance in 07-10 for KC versus his previous history, then hooray, he did indeed improve. He gave them 68 starts of 110 ERA+ in 07-08 around 3.8 ERA with7K/9IP, and then back to 31 starts in 2 years of more punching bag 5.00ERA or higher “pitching”.

      It was an overpay at the time, he pitched relatively well for the first half and cratered the 2nd half.

      Vargas at 4/32 which if you equallize the contract value to 07-10 would be more like 4/24 is a much better deal. He’s a midrange 4th starter…but he’s relatively cheap. The Royals need that as long as he can go 180-200 IP a year. Guthrie has better upside and is a midrange 3rd starter level guy

  15. homergreenz - Nov 21, 2013 at 8:07 PM

    To date, Vargas has signed the longest contract in the free agent season.

  16. moogro - Nov 21, 2013 at 9:15 PM

    The economics of baseball are making GMs do desperate things against their better judgment to put butts in the seats. Great time for players, terrible time for fans of teams that don’t have. And it’s going to get worse.

    • dwrek5 - Nov 21, 2013 at 10:25 PM

      The economics of baseball have never been stronger. These recent TV deals have been through the roof. Teams have more money now than ever. Its a great time for owners and players.
      What are you referring to?

  17. loanbazars - Nov 22, 2013 at 1:14 AM

    Reblogged this on Loan Bazars.

  18. mottershead1972 - Nov 22, 2013 at 9:44 AM

    Didn’t Mr Vargas stop drinking Sanka and switch back to coffee?

  19. beastmode5150 - Nov 22, 2013 at 3:49 PM


    -Mariners fans

  20. peddealer - Nov 23, 2013 at 11:15 AM

    This guy is more Ann Hesch(sp?) than Gil Meche

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