Pittsburgh Pirates Trade Candidate: Lefty Jason Vargas

Let’s face facts.  The Pittsburgh Pirates could still use a veteran left handed pitcher.

Yes the club has unproven lefties at Triple-A in Rudy Owens, Justin Wilson and Jeff Locke.  Yes Erik Bedard deserves another shot to prove he can get it done.

When the Buccos reel off another impressive stretch of wins after the break do you feel confident in those four names heading into the heart of the first serious pennant race the city of Pittsburgh has had since Barry Bonds had a small head?  If you do, ignore this post, don’t even bother going any further, your time is valuable.

We don’t think a pennant race should be left to the likes of Owens, Wilson, Locke or Bedard.  Just ask the Red Sox about Bedard.  We think if the Bucs want to make a serious run more pitching is needed.

The trade market has some southpaws, but most come with a hefty price tag. But Jason Vargas doesn’t.  We thought it was for a reason, so we decided to take a quick look at the Seattle Mariners starter.

What’s he got that you like so much? 

First thing.  He’s left handed.

Second thing.  He’s left handed.

Third thing.   He’s durable and left handed.

Fourth thing.  He’s young(er) and controllable next season.

Fifth thing.  He’s got a solid changeup despite only an 88 miles per hour fastball which would play very well at PNC Park.

Sixth thing.  He’s hot.  In the month of July he has thrown 17 innings and allowed just two earned runs.

What about the money?  It’s not our cash, but we do understand the concern.  He has a $4.85 million dollar salary.  Those numbers have him well below Wandy Rodriguez and Cole Hamels.

So what’s the downside?  Vargas isn’t getting swings and misses this year.  It’s so bad that he is one of the worst in the league at it.  He has also allowed 23 bombs, including at least one in each of his past ten starts.  The Snakes ripped five off of him on June 20 when he gave up 10 earned runs.

However, in his last three starts-23.2 innings–he has notched 22 striketouts.  Against Oakland on June 26, Vargas punched out ten, the Red Sox went down via strikeout six times, and a repeat performance against the .500 Oakland A’s on July 7 saw the southpaw rack up six more.

What do you think Hurdle thinks about him?  Hurdle has to love the fact that Vargas goes deep into games.  He is second in the American League in innings pitched which is a major flaw of the Pirates current rotation.

What do you think Huntington is thinking?  The Bucs could control Vargas next year which is his final arb-eligible season.  We think that factor is important for a young team like the Pirates who would need to give up a couple of B type players to land Vargas.  Huntington probably doesn’t like the declining strikeouts this season, but we are certain his team will be paying attention to his next start against the Royals and see how he matches up compared to what the Bucs starters did against KC.

Vargas will warrant a serious look.  The left hander is far from a perfect candidate, but he just might be a suitable one whose numbers could improve at PNC Park.

Tags: Jason Vargas Pittsburgh Pirates

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