Let’s take a walk down memory lane.
Remember former Mariners pitcher Jason Vargas? He was one of the team’s starting pitchers from 2009 to 2012. He was one of six players traded from the Mets for JJ Putz, Jeremy Reed, and Sean Green. Only two of his trade-mates served significant time with the Mariners in Mike Carp and Endy Chavez.
Vargas was never ace material and was plenty the victim of the long ball. Leaving the ball in the park was Vargas’s achilles heel as he surrendered a staggering 91 jacks during his four-year tenure. His total of homers allowed just in 2012 alone was 35! Vargas was one of those starters who was “just good enough.” The winter 2012 trade of him to the Angels for Kendrys Morales was a wise decision and an upgrade. The Mariners needed more hitting than pitching that season.
While Jason was a one-and-done Angel, he helped the 2014 Royals to a pennant. And while Tommy John surgery from a torn UCL prematurely ended his 2015, he officially won his ring with them as well. Since leaving the Royals after 2017, the man’s ERA has seen some decline. In 2018, he wrapped up his second Mets stint at 5.77.
This last season, he was not the pennant race help that the Phillies traded for, ending things at 5.37 in his 11 starts. Although Vargas earned his first All-Star berth as a Royal (2017) along with 18 wins, his ERA was pretty mediocre even then at 4.16.
Yet in Vargas’s Mariners stint, he did quietly help out the rotation. He was always more of a middle-of-the-pack starter but posted decent ERA’s a bit north of 3.00 a couple of seasons. If only those Mariner teams hadn’t stunk! Vargas also racked up innings and struck out his fair share of hitters. His 2012 totals of 141 strikeouts and 217.1 innings pitched are still career highs.
Once again, the Mariners’ starting rotation needs some veteran presence in the upcoming post-Felix era. At 36-years-young, Vargas has been there and developed postseason experience after being traded away from the Mariners. No, he’ll never turn heads with his numbers or pitching overall. I understand that the long ball is trouble for Vargas. I also understand that long balls were trouble for Seattle’s entire 2019 pitching staff.
But Vargas will probably want some work going into 2020 and, overall, you can count on him for a solid pitching performance. There is something about a player’s second stint with a club that just feels good. It’s a second chance to make any kind of a difference. The plan, of course, wouldn’t be to break the bank for Vargas. He is, once again, in his late 30’s and has struggled the last couple years. But oh does this team need veteran pitchers!
How about this, Jerry? How about signing him to the dollar amount that the Phillies declined his 2020 option for? Let’s welcome him back for one year, eight million dollars. Think of this free agent signing reminiscent to 2005’s Aaron Sele. He had a good first stint and was a low-risk signing. 2005’s Sele was released early after going 6-12 with a 5.66 ERA. If 2020 Jason Vargas doesn’t work out, say sayonara early. You could have taken a bigger bite into your payroll.