6:27pm: Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports (via Twitter) that the Royals have insurance on Vargas’ contract. If he misses all of the 2016 season, roughly $6MM of the $8.5MM he’s owed is covered by the policy.
Needless to say, that diagnosis does not bode well for Vargas’s status this year or next. The surgery almost always requires more than a full year before a pitcher can return to action. That rough timeline would suggest that Vargas will not be available until late in 2016 at the earliest.
Vargas is playing on a four-year, $32MM deal that he signed as a free agent before the 2014 campaign. He is owed $8.5MM next year and $8MM for 2017.
The loss of Vargas represents a significant hit to Kansas City’s rotation depth. The club was already sporting the league’s 7th-highest composite starter ERA, and ERA estimators were even less optimistic of the quality of the current staff. Righty Yordano Ventura will take the open roster spot, but he had just been demoted after falling shy of expectations in the season’s first half.
In spite of the rotation difficulties, of course, the Royals entered today’s action with the American League’s best record. Adding a starter of some kind seemed an inevitability, with the question being whether GM Dayton Moore would aim for big impact or sturdy innings. It isn’t clear that the Vargas injury changes the equation in that regard, though it certainly adds impetus to the team’s need to add an arm (or two).