News broke this week that another Royals free agent has found a new home. Left-hand pitcher, Jason Vargas, has finally landed, and it is with the New York Mets. When looking at his last four years, he might have meant more to Kansas City than we realize.
When news broke that the Kansas City Royals signed the 31-year-old Jason Vargas to a four-year, $32 million contract in 2014, it was not very “splashy”. Before coming to Kansas City he had a career 4.30 ERA. Over those eight years, he had a 51-58 record over 174 games and 979.2 innings.
Vargas was signed to help solidify the teams pitching rotation in 2014 after a competitive finish to the 2013 season. Vargas is far from a hard thrower, with his fastball typically maxing out at 89mph-90mph, but he is great at hitting his mark. With a team that had hard-throwing starters, the finest pitching Vargas was a nice change of pace.
Jason Vargas’ time in Kansas City
Over his four years in Kansas City, Vargas posted a solid 3.88 ERA over 74 games and 421.2 innings. During that time he had a 2.4 BB/9 (walks per nine innings) and a 6.4 K/9 (strikeouts per nine innings). For a soft-thrower like Vargas, that is not half bad.
In his first year with the Royals, he was the perfect addition to a great rotation. When you look back at the Royals 2014 rotation, it really is surprising how solid they were.
- James Shields: 3.21 ERA, 227.0 innings, 34 starts, 14-8 record, 7.1 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9
- Danny Duffy: 2.55 ERA, 141.0 innings, 24 starts, 8-11 record, 6.5 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9
- Yordano Ventura: 3.23 ERA, 181.1 innings, 30 starts, 13-10 record, 7.8 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9
- Jeremy Guthrie: 4.13 ERA, 202.2 innings, 32 starts, 13-11 record, 5.5 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9
- Jason Vargas: 3.71 ERA, 187.0 innings, 30 starts, 11-10 record, 6.2 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9
He gave the Royals two great games in the postseason in 2014 as well. He finished the 2014 postseason with a 3.52 ERA, 15.1 innings, 3 starts, and 1-0 record.
Unfortunately, his 2015 campaign was cut short due to injury. The southpaw had Tommy Johns Surgery, which took him out for nearly all of 2015 and 2016. He made three appearances in 2016 and looked promising. He then took that momentum into the 2017 season.
During the first half of last season, Vargas was a Cy Young winner. He had a 2.62 ERA over 17 games, going 12-3. The hope was that he could continue those numbers, but he seemed to wear down. The second half of the year he posted a 6.38 ERA over 15 games, where he went 6-8. He finished the year with a career-high, and league-leading, 18 wins.
Due to a strong 2017, Vargas was rewarded. He had to wait a long time due to the very slow market, but he finally settled on a two-year, $16 million contract.
The Royals saw a lot of success with Vargas on the team. The 2014 postseason run was Vargas’ best season. The New York Mets seem to have found a starter that can provide some stability to the rotation that always seems to be injured.
With that being said, thank you for the last four years in Kansas City, Jason Vargas. You helped Kansas City reach the top of the mountain, and we as fans appreciate what you did. Here is to hoping the next two, maybe three years, are great ones for you!