The Kansas City Royals have announced that they have signed left-hander Jason Vargas to a four-year contract, in a move first reported by Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports. FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal reports that the deal will pay Vargas $32 million over the four years.
Vargas, who turns 31 in February, drew significant interest from the Angels, with whom he spent the 2013 season. The interest was reportedly mutual between the two sides, but the Angels were unlikely to offer him a three-year deal, let alone a four-year contract. According to Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the Twins also expressed some interest in signing the southpaw.
The Royals have been in on multiple free agent starters this winter, and seemed most interested in Tim Hudson and Josh Johnson, who signed earlier in the week with the Giants and Padres, respectively.
In 24 starts in his first season in Anaheim, Vargas was 9-8 with a 4.02 ERA in 150 innings of work. A blood clot derailed his season for about six weeks over the summer, but he is now completely healthy and will immediately slot into the Royals' starting rotation.
In eight major league seasons with the Marlins (2005-2006), Mets (2007), Mariners (2009-2012) and Angels (2013), Vargas is the owner of a lifetime 51-58 record and 4.30 ERA. He was acquired by the Angels last winter in a trade for Kendrys Morales, who is also a free agent.
With Vargas locked up in place of free agent Ervin Santana, the Royals rotation now consists of James Shields, Jeremy Guthrie, Danny Duffy, Wade Davis and Vargas. The move also competely rules out a potential reunion between the Royals and Santana, who is widely expected to receive a high-value, multi-year contract elsewhere. Coincidentally, this looks to be the second straight winter in which Vargas will replace Santana in a team's rotation; he was acquired by the Angels shortly after they sent Santana to the Royals last season.
A source close to the situation confirms that the Royals' commitment to Vargas decreases the chances that Shields will be with the team past next season. The right-hander is a free agent a year from now, and will likely command a very large contract on the open market.