So I'm working on an article about the career of Jason Vargas (look for that tomorrow). As you know, he was signed by the Kansas City Royals as a free agent this week, for four years, $32 million.
Some people hate this move; some don't think it is that bad. I'm not sure anyone but the Royals and Vargas think it is a great move. Originally I was somewhere in the "well, it isn't THAT bad but four years is too long" range. I could see this for two years but four just seems like too much, although I was still working out the logic to see where it would lead me.
But I just read this post from Joe Posnanski, who hates the signing, "loathes" it even. He points out that within the context of Kansas City, four years and $32 million is a big commitment. This is the third-richest contract the Royals have ever given a pitcher, behind only Gil Meche and Zack Greinke. Joe says:
Anyway my problem with that sort of investment is not the money itself. It is the commitment that comes with the money. See, the Royals are now committed to Jason Vargas in a way that they are not committed to, say, Danny Duffy or Yordano Ventura or Kyle Zimmer or Miguel Almonte or any of their other young pitchers. The Royals get stuck in these messes all the time. They gave too much money to Jeff Francoeur, and they stuck with him for way too long while Will Myers got enough time in the minors to be named minor league player of the year.
Vargas could come out next year and be horrendous and the Royals will stick with him for too long. This is what a long-term investment means. You lock up all this money and it weighs you down, it cuts down your options, it forces you to do things that are not always in the best interest of winning.
Yeah, that's on target.
I will write more specifically about Vargas tomorrow. He's not a bad pitcher and he has some value. But there are "not bad" pitchers looking for work every year, and usually you don't have to commit four years to them. Bruce Chen was picked off the scrap heap for example.
The Royals have taken some ribbing (not all of it good-natured) for the "major announcement" warning that preceded the signing. Is this the big move of the off-season? Is Vargas someone who will take a step forward in the KC environment? Or will he turn into a pitching version of Jeff Francouer, as Joe Posnanski fears?
Is this a wise move, or did Dayton Moore just uncrate a box labeled "fragile"?