Word is just in, via a tweet from his agency, CAA Sports, that pitcher Jason Vargas avoided arbitration today by reaching agreement on a one-year contract for $4.85 million. Reliever Brandon League also avoided arbitration by reaching agreement on a one-year contract for $5 million (per Jon Heyman of CBS Sports), and now there’s word, via MLB.com’s Greg Johns, that the Mariners’ third arbitration-eligible player, Shawn Kelley , has also reached agreement for $600,000, plus $50,000 in possible incentives.
It’s always good to see the teams come to terms with a player and avoid arbitration. Those hearings are often very nasty and lead down a road to creating friction between the player and the organization. And while neither of the three look to be career guys with the Mariners, it does help to keep from furthering the persona of a “bad players organization” that people keep murmuring about in Seattle.
League’s bump up to $5 is a bit more than I had thought he’d get, but he does now have those key “saves” and that makes all the difference in the world. Kelley on the other hand is about exactly what I had thought he’d get and good on him for also getting that little bump in possible incentives.
This off-season we’ve seen Dave Cameron talk about both a Michael Pineda extension as well as Casey McLain and myself throwing out the idea of a Dustin Ackley Extension. While, Pineda is still technicially Mariners “property” for the next day or two it’s highly unlikely that with all the press on this deal that it would subsequently would fall apart now. But with the arbtration being settled I’m a bit surprised the team didn’t look at one other road.
While, Jason Vargas has often thought to be the trade candidate it is Pineda who has provided the ability to bring back the quality bat that we needed and with that our rotation does have a few question marks. I’m surprised that the team went ahead and signed Vargas for the 4.85 amount instead of working out a longer term deal.
Vargas has been a bit of an engima at times and over the past two years, and while he has put together some very good games, he has “only” accumulated 5 WAR. Making him pretty much an average back-of-the-rotation pitcher and like so has produced an FIP- of 99 and 105 respectively each of the past couple of years. Pretty much the deffinition of average.
But while his FIP doesn’t exactly reflect it he did take a step forward this past year by A) getting over the 200 innings marks and B) accumulated more swings and misses with his pitches. These are neither are monumental tasks there is further hope that with this his mechanical adjustment that he could get even better.
Looking at his September numbers, they are far better than anything he has ever previously produced and while you can certainly make the argument that he was facing weaker compition in starts against Oakland, Kansas City and Minnesota (all basement dwelling teams), he also did face the Yankees.
But, the idea didn’t spawn at the possibility of Vargas getting better, rather at the possibility of Vargas just being a consistently decent pitcher. Even at $5 million he’s still a good deal and if the Mariners could keep him controlled under $8 million for multiple years. He’d be a very valuable asset regardless of the leagues opinion of him. He’s a better version of what both Francisco Liriano and Wandy Rodriguez are, not to mention their both cheaper.
I’m not talking about a 6 year deal or anything with a lot of length, maybe just a 3 year deal. Sure, they have a bunch of very talented young pitchers but who knows what might come of them. Not only that but while Vargas isn’t the cheap asset he was before, being cost controlled for the future is the next best thing.
Not saying the Mariners should do something like this but it’s just something that I’ve been thinking on and with the arbitration news it’s something to talk about and explore.