April 23, 2013; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Jason Vargas (60) walks back to the dugout following the sixth inning against the Texas Rangers at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Jason Vargas is a Free Agent With No Strings Attached


I contemplated quietly to myself over the last few months about how I would approach the situation with Jason Vargas. Would I have extended him? Would I have extended a qualifying offer? Would I have found a way to trade him? To be honest, I still don’t know what is the exact right answer. But yesterday, the Angels made one of those decisions by not extending a qualifying offer (One year, $14.1MM) to Vargas.

He is not alone in these waters. Along with Jason Vargas, other notable pitchers who did not receive qualifying offers include A.J. Burnett, Roy Halladay, Matt Garza, Bartolo Colon and Tim Hudson. Making each of these pitchers very enticing to teams with the opening of Free Agency today.

My personal worry is that, by not extending an offer to Jason Vargas, that the Angels are simply closing the door on him returning to the fold next year. Turns out – according to Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times – that that is simply not the case. Of course, I could have found this out myself, but Jerry Dipoto blocked my phone number. Time to get that untraceable number I have been saving up for.

“I don’t feel like this closes the door on the Angels’ relationship with Jason, and I believe Jason understands that,” Angels General Manager Jerry Dipoto said. “We’ve continued an open rhetoric with Jason throughout. He knows we like him. There’s a mutual interest in both sides connecting in the future.”

Phew. Glad that got cleared up.

It is almost a certainty that Jason Vargas would have taken the qualifying offer. $14.1MM is easily more than the average annual value that he will receive on the open market. Adding that to the Angels payroll would have almost assuredly put them at the luxury tax threshold next season, making it virtually impossible to add any other payroll without having to pay the tax.

But, the Angels need pitching. And Jason Vargas was an easy target to extend before the season ended. I mean, it seems less than ideal to hit free agency after missing significant time during your walk year. Blood clot or not.

The Angels now have to worry about other teams who may be interested in adding Vargas to their roster. And if Vargas does sign elsewhere, there will be no draft pick compensation since there was no qualifying offer extended. Which means that if the Angels intended on getting anything out of Vargas other than “innings pitched,” they should have traded him by the waiver deadline. Which means that – judging by the last couple of offseasons full of misses – Jason Vargas will most likely sign a highly affordable three-year deal with some team, and the Angels are going to be left twiddling their thumbs.

Damnit, hindsight, stop being 20/20.

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