Wednesday the Los Angeles Angeles traded designated hitter Kendrys Morales to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for starting pitcher Jason Vargas.
The deal will address serious needs for the two division rivals. Angels GM Jerry Dipoto was looking to add an inning-eater to complete his pitching rotation and Vargas fits the bill perfectly. The 29 year-old lefty has pitched at least 192 innings in each of the past three seasons while posting a 33-36 record in 96 starts with Seattle.
Vargas had a very good campaign in 2012, finishing the year with a 14-11 record along with a 3.85 ERA with 5.8 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 rates. The 6'0'', 215-lb southpaw will join a rotation that already includes Jared Weaver, C.J. Wilson, as well as new acquisitions Joe Blanton and Tommy Hanson. Vargas' acquisition also means that Garrett Richards is the odd man out and the sixth starter.
The problem with Jason Vargas is that he fared much better at Cavernous Safeco Field, home of the Mariners, than on the road in 2012:
The catch is that the Mariners have decided to move the fences in for the 2012 season, which would have greatly hurt a fly-ball pitcher like Vargas.
While Safeco Field crushes right-handed home run power, it’s not so terrible against lefties. On the other hand, Angel Stadium, does not have any effect on hitters no matter which side of the plate they hit from. Overall, Vargas should see his ERA rise and his peripheral statistics decrease (less strikeouts and more walks), but his win total will improve thanks to better run support in Los Angeles.
As for Kendrys Morales, he was the odd-man out after the Angels signed power-hitter Josh Hamilton to a lucrative five-year contract. Mark Trumbo is now the desginated hitter, with Peter Bourjos and Mike Trout joining Hamilton in the outfield. Morales batted for .273 last season while hitting 22 homeruns, 26 doubles and producing 73 runs in 134 games for the Angels after missing the 2011 season due to a freak injury following a walk-off homerun celebration.
Moreover, Morales is only scheduled to make $4.8 million this year, which is actually cheaper than the $7.4 million Vargas was being projected to get through arbitration, so the Mariners save a few millions they could invest on another bat to strengthen their line-up.
The switch-hitting batter from Cuba will most likely bat clean-up and act as the team's designate hitter, relegating Jesus Montero to the bench, especially if the latter cannot improve his defensive game as a catcher. Justin Smoak who had a terrible 2012 season, but finished strong, will have the first crack at first base. If the promising hitter is not able to find more consistency at the plate, the Mariners will use Morales at first base and Montero will be the DH.
Expect the 29 year-old Morales to add pop to a batting order that finished last in the American League in runs scored last summer. His offensive numbers will be similar to his most recent production: .280 BA, 25 homeruns, 30 doubles and 85 RBIs.
The Angels get: A proven starting pitcher that will eat innings and help solidify an already potent starting rotation.
The Mariners get: A veteran batter who will bring power to a run-starved team and help ease the pressure on youngters.
Fantasy players helped by this deal:
Peter Bourjos, OF, LAA
Mark Trumbo, DH/OF/1B, LAA
Dustin Ackley, 2B, SEA
Kyle Seager, 3B, SEA
Fantasy players hurt by this deal:
Garrett Richards, SP, LAA
Jesus Montero, CA/DH, SEA
Justin Smoak, 1B, SEA