Trade Candidate: Jason Vargas

In a trade market that’s expected to feature some effective but expensive left-handed starters, Jason Vargas could have considerable value. His $4.85MM salary is less than half of Wandy Rodriguez’s salary, and less than one third of Cole Hamels’ salary.

Vargas’ back of the baseball card numbers are remarkably similar to those of Rodriguez, as demonstrated below. But interested teams will note that Vargas is younger, faces designated hitters instead of pitchers, and will be more affordable in the short and long-term.

Vargas & Wandy

Vargas could slot comfortably into the rotation of many contending teams. He’s not an ace and probably never will be, but he successfully limits the opposition with a repertoire based on his changeup and modest 88 mph fastball. The combination typically results in an ERA around 4.00, twice as many strikeouts as walks and lots of fly balls in 200 innings or so. So far this year, Vargas has a 3.95 ERA with 5.7 K/9, 2.3 BB/9 and a 40.1% ground ball rate in 98 innings. 

However, Vargas has been more homer-prone than usual this year and he’s generating fewer swings and misses than he ordinarily does. Just five qualified starters are inducing swings and misses less frequently than Vargas, whose 5.8% swinging strike rate is his lowest since joining the Mariners three and a half years ago.

Potential suitors wouldn't be looking at a three-month rental. The 29-year-old CAA client is under team control through 2013 when he’ll be arbitration eligible for the final time. He’s on track for a substantial raise next year — possibly a salary of $7MM-plus.

The last-place Mariners, now 30-40, will presumably acknowledge that this isn’t their year within a month or so and start listening to trade offers. General manager Jack Zduriencik has dealt from starting pitching depth twice in the past year, yet the Mariners still have many young arms. The rotation of the Jackson Generals, Seattle’s Double-A affiliate, includes top prospects Danny Hultzen, James Paxton and Taijuan Walker.

The Mariners probably won’t be able to trade Vargas for an elite hitting prospect like Jesus Montero. But Zduriencik acquired Charlie Furbush, Chance Ruffin and Casper Wells for Doug Fister and David Pauley a year ago. Perhaps they’ll see similarly intriguing offers for Vargas this summer, when some contenders will be willing to part with controllable players for experienced starting pitching help.


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32 Comments on "Trade Candidate: Jason Vargas"


3 years 1 month ago

Vargas could net a B- prospect for sure. He’s a legit value this season, and marginal value next season after his raise. A team acquiring him could also leverage a contract, maybe for $16 mil total (ballpark number), to take him through his first FA season.

He pitched over 390 innings in 2010-2011, and hasn’t missed anything resembling significant time for a while. Could be a useful #4 guy on a contender down the stretch, or even a #3 on a contender with a weaker pitching staff, such as the Indians who have the 2nd worst ERA, 3rd worst FIP, and 2nd worst xFIP of AL clubs.

Magorphenger
3 years 1 month ago

Vargas is an excellent piece to move given the Mariners need for positions that most winning organizations can afford to spare.

Vargas will likely end up with either the Pirates or Dodgers, in my opinion. What they’ll get in return will depend on if Ryan is still around and if they have designs of resigning Ichiro for cheap.

bigpat
3 years 1 month ago

 I would like him on the Pirates. I don’t think they’d have to give up a lot for him and he’d be a solid #3 pitcher for the team given some of their uncertainties.

3 years 1 month ago

Can someone explain how this guy is different than John Lannan?  The description sounds near-identical — soft-throwing, inning-eating lefties with limited upside entering final year of arb.
 
Just curious how they compare in terms of trade value.  Most of what I’ve heard about Lannan is that he should net a bag of balls.

FacelessGeneralManager
3 years 1 month ago

Vargas has those numbers in mlb. Lannan has worse numbers in triple a. Thats the differance.

3 years 1 month ago

Lannan has a pretty established track record of major league mediocrity as well, though.  And he’s had better results in aaa lately.  I’m just not sure why a team looking for this type of player would pay substantially more for Vargas (though obviously I have no idea what the scouting says).

raffish
3 years 1 month ago

Walks fewer, strikes out more, lower BAA, but you’re right, similar stat lines.  Unless the prospect is too good to pass up, I hope we keep him.  Vargas can deal when he’s on.

vtadave
3 years 1 month ago

The fact that Lannan is in AAA and Wang is in the big league rotation probably says all we need to know about Lannan.

chris_synan1
3 years 1 month ago

Darnell McDonald for Jason Vargas

nippystix
3 years 1 month ago

What exactly is Wandy’s trade value?  What is a realistic return Astros’ fans should expect?

mmiller54
3 years 1 month ago

Probably a B+ prospect or so if they eat most of his salary.

3 years 1 month ago

I think he is worth more, especially with the Astros eating salary.  He’s more proven and the Astros will probably toss in another player from AAA that could help a team.

flash2225
3 years 1 month ago

I would be very surprised to see the Mariners trade Vargas this year.  While obviously still rebuilding their roster, they are very light on major league ready starting pitching (example, throwing Erasmo Ramirez, Beaven, Noesi this year etc).  While they do have quality starting pitching coming, it wont be till later this year (Hultzen) and start of next year (Paxton), and probably a June call-up of Walker in ’13. 

The return for Vargas would have to knock the Mariners over (the McDonald for Vargas made me laugh), and i doubt any team is going to throw much of value (maybe as stated a B+ or B prospect and change) to acquire Vargas, and the Mariners are not going to trade Vargas just to trade him.  They will require value back, and will probably ask for more than he is actually worth going forward with 1 more year before free agency.  A price most teams will balk at, and that the Mariners will stand firm on.

His value to the Mariners is going forward (rest of this year and next) is going to be higher than to a contending team, which is why matching up value going both ways will be tough.

Couple that with the obvious trade candidate Kevin Millwood (as long as health and results are ok) and you would be hard pressed to see the Mariners trading 40% of their starting rotation at the deadline, and just take a bath the rest of the year.

Vargas is also insurance for next year.  They will essentially have to replace 4 of their 5 starting pitchers (assuming Vargas is traded) in the off season.  And while you can pencil in Hultzen to take one of those spots there is no guarantee that he wont struggle in AAA, and doubtful Paxton and Walker make the jump straight to the rotation next year.  With a shrinking budget and limited options i just don’t see them trading away a reliable commodity in Vargas when they have him locked up for next year at a palatable price.   

East Coast Bias
3 years 1 month ago

I understand what you’re saying… but the flip side is that the Ms should get whatever they can for Vargas now, because the more time goes by, the lower his value becomes. And in the end, he’s expendable, due to the haul of pitching coming up through the minors. 

If they keep Vargas, he becomes insurance in case someone falters.

If they trade him, they get back a much needed position piece, and can sign a veteran for that same insurance necessity Vargas was going to serve.

Either way, it will be exciting to watch the kids reach the majors in the coming months. 

3 years 1 month ago

I remember last year M’s fans didn’t want to trade Figgins to the A’s and said he was to valuable to the club.  The M’s should make Vargas available for a good young prospect.  Trade while a player has value.  Should be able to net a decent prospect and a low prospect starter. 

flash2225
3 years 1 month ago

First off, the Figgins situation and the Vargas situation are 2 completely different things.  One has nothing to do with the other, especially when Figgins had no value last year (where Vargas does, not only to the acquiring team, but to the present team).  I don’t remember any rumors last year that connected him (Figgins) to the A’s (i seem to remember only the Braves).

 Any argument made that Figgins should NOT have been traded last year because of his value to the Mariners is ridiculous.  The argument for not trading Figgins last year was essentially that the Mariners would be eating the entire contract, and receiving  a long shot prospect at best.  By retaining Figgins for this year, they gave themselves the ability to have him recoup some trade value by playing like a half way decent player (long shot, but worth it).  In doing so, they could then flip him, eating less money, and netting a better prospect.  This of course did not work out.  No dead cat bounce for Figgins.  Now his “trade value” (i use that term lightly) is identical to what it was last year at this time (value can only go so low *snicker*), so the Mariners did not lose out on anything by keeping him around.

You propose to trade Vargas,  I 100% agree that he should be made available, and moved for value (which im sure he is), but you just don’t give him away.  Your trade proposal of a good young prospect (grade of B/B+) and a long shot starter for me is light from the value prospective (its actually a reasonable place to start negotiations on a trade).  However, the value to the Mariners is going to be higher  than that proposal, and assuming he stays healthy and his stats stay similar, he will fetch that type of package at the deadline next year (or similar), so why make that trade just to move him?

My original point stands, if the Mariners are overwhelmed by a proposal, then trading him makes sense. If you get offers similar to what is posted, then it makes more sense to retain him till next years deadline.

Ryan H
3 years 1 month ago

Wandy’s trade value should be greater due to the fact that he has a bit more of a proven track record.

harmony55
3 years 1 month ago

Since the start of the 2010 season, Wandy Rodriguez had accumulated 6.0 Wins Above Replacement while Jason Vargas has posted 5.6 WAR.

johnsilver
3 years 1 month ago

 Vargas issues exactly like Wandy.. Cannot pinpoint location (like today) and he gets rocked.

Vargas just got pulled after 4 2/3 IP and couldn’t get anyone to swing at his sinking F/b and slider, so all he could get over the plat was a mid 80’s fb and the Dbacks were crushing it..10 runs worth..

That kind of pitcher (Wandy is another) will get exploited some even when they are *on* as they rely on hitters swinging at pitches out of the K zone and patient hitters, which many good teams are loaded with simply will not and sit back for that mid-upper 80’s fb from those types.. Marcum is another.

Devon Henry
3 years 1 month ago

He said ”more of a proven track record.” Wandy has been a solid pitcher since 2008 where as Vargas only started being an effective pitcher since 2010, thus a bit more proven track record. Wasn’t sure if your disagreeing or just replying to comments and posting random stats.

harmony55
3 years 1 month ago

Since the start of the 2010 season, Wandy Rodriguez had accumulated 6.0 Wins Above Replacement in 79 starts while Jason Vargas had posted 5.6 WAR in 78 starts (before getting rocked today).

Rodriguez is owed about $5.5 million the rest of this year and $13.5 million in 2013 with a $250,000 buyout of a 2014 option. Vargas is owed about $2.5 million the rest of this year with one more arbitration year working off his 2012 salary of $4.85 million.

3 years 1 month ago

Nothing like changing the sample size to fit your agenda. Also WAR is an inexact science at best. I can go to three different sites and quote different WARs.

harmony55
3 years 1 month ago

What sample size would you use to compare a 33-year-old lefthander and a 29-year-old lefthander?

dejota
3 years 1 month ago

Why does every Wandy analysis include his first three seasons? He’s much better than Vargas in almost every way (ERA+, K/9, ERA (similair if you really think a DH is worth half a run every 9). Im so tired of the uncalled for hate on the magic Wandy. He’s quality and even his detractors tend to note that usually alongside a half baked disclaimer about the NL or his career numbers…

harmony55
3 years 1 month ago

Since the start of the 2010 season, Wandy Rodriguez had accumulated 6.0 Wins Above Replacement in 79 starts while Jason Vargas had posted 5.6 WAR in 78 starts (before getting rocked today).

Rodriguez is owed about $5.5 million the rest of this year and $13.5 million in 2013 with a $250,000 buyout of a 2014 option. Vargas is owed about $2.5 million the rest of this year with one more arbitration year working off his 2012 salary of $4.85 million.

Hutch84
3 years 1 month ago

Not helping himself today. 4.1 IP, 9H, 10ER.

3 years 1 month ago

Nope haha. It’s the Seattle way. This always happens.

harmony55
3 years 1 month ago

Could Seattle lefthander Jason Vargas bring back Seattle area native Travis Snider in a trade with Toronto?

1980CHAMPS
3 years 1 month ago

Vargas is an average soft throwing lefty that lucked himself into a huge west coast park.  I never thought he was anything approaching even average in his few stints with the Marlins.  Now I see he gave up 10 runs in only 4 innings pitched today with no DH.  

Wes Whitenack
3 years 1 month ago

He’s homer prone, and I was at Arizona, a very friendly hitters park. If he goes to a more neutral park, he’d work out well.

Theron Ireland
3 years 1 month ago

andy oliver for jason vargas

3 years 1 month ago

two month rental? its my understanding he is under team control until 2014. they just signed him to an extension last year for 3 years with a 4th year vesting option that could be worth 44.5 million. so he wouldnt be a rental.