There is much speculation the Mariners will deal LHP Jason Vargas before Tuesdays non-waiver trade deadline. Vargas said after his latest start Thursday, a 4-1 win over Kansas City, that he hopes the Mariners won’t trade him. But the club will probably never get more from Vargas than they could get now. Hes reached his maximum value.
Vargas is 4-0 with a 1.46 ERA in five July starts and, more impressively, 10-2, 2.67 in 14 starts after a Mariners loss. Hes also tossed six consecutive quality outings, something that not even Felix Hernandez has done this season.
Another reason Vargas’ value is high: although he’s a career 24-23, 4.09 pitcher in the first half, he’s just 15-23, 4.84 in the second half. However, this season he’s 3-0, 1.80 since the All-Star break, and won’t become a free agent for more than a year.
Teams in contention that have a need to bolster pitching for the stretch run, an event that hasnt occurred in Seattle in more than a decade, will find Vargas an enticing candidate. To a lesser degree, same goes for Kevin Millwood, even though he hasnt won since May 23, and Brandon League, who lost his closer’s job to Tom Wilhelmsen, but hasn’t allowed an earned run in seven appearances since July 6.
The trouble with trading Vargas, especially, is that he’s 29 years old, has never pitched better than now (already a career-high 11 victories) and has developed into a solid No. 2 in the rotation behind Felix Hernandez.
But as John Hickey pointed out in a recent Sportspress Northwest post, the young pitching — Danny Hultzen, James Paxton and Taijuan Walker — that the Mariners are counting on isn’t ready yet.
The Mariners would receive more for Vargas than they would for either League or Millwood, especially given Vargas’ recent outings. But they’d lose more as well. Question is whether that even matters with the Mariners going nowhere this season, and probably next season as well.
Vargas made it plain after Thursday’s game that he doesn’t want to be traded, saying, “This is where I want to stay. This is a great city, I love the organization, I love my teammates, I love the staff I cant say any more than that. Its home to me.”