KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Royals agreed to a $32 million, four-year contract with left-hander Jason Vargas on Thursday, trying to fill the void in their rotation created by Ervin Santana's free agency.
Vargas was 9-8 with a 4.02 ERA in 24 starts for the Angels last season. He was 6-4 with a 3.65 ERA before going on the disabled list with a blood clot in his arm that required surgery.
Kansas City was searching for a veteran to replace Santana, another former Angels pitcher who rediscovered himself in Kansas City. Santana went 9-10 with a 3.24 ERA last season, driving up his price in free agency to the point where the Royals are unlikely to sign him.
"Our medical team felt very comfortable, our scouting judgment was very sound, with the length of the contract as well. It all kind of lined up together," general manager Dayton Moore said. "We felt very confident and secure in making him a Royal."
Vargas, a soft-tossing lefty who turns 31 in February, gets $7 million next season, $8.5 million in each of the following two years and $8 million in 2017.
He had shown a propensity for giving up home runs, but that should be mitigated by cavernous Kauffman Stadium. That was the case with Santana, who also allowed homers by the bushel in Los Angeles before getting things under control in Kansas City.
"The biggest thing for me was being in a place where I knew I would be at for a significant amount of time, and with an organization where I felt comfortable," Vargas said, "and I believed in what they're doing and continuing to get better, and Kansas City was definitely at the top of that list going into the offseason."
Vargas will be joining a club that finished 86-76 last season, its best finish since 1989, and was in contention for a playoff berth until the final weeks of the season.
"What excited me about the team is how I've seen the team grow and progress a lot over the last four or five years," Vargas said. "Their defense is spectacular and I'm just hoping I can be a piece of the puzzle that helps move us forward."
The Royals designated catcher George Kottaras for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.
Vargas isn't the sort of splashy signing that will make Royals fans salivate, but he does solidify the back end of what's expected to be a young rotation.