Angels trade Kendrys Morales to Mariners for Jason Vargas

Stephen Dunn

With the Angels lineup crowded by the Josh Hamilton signing, the Halos opt for veteran pitching depth.

The Angels have found their odd-man out and it's Kendrys Morales; the first baseman has been traded to the Seattle Mariners for left-handed starting pitcher Jason Vargas. The deal comes in the wake of the Halos' free-agent signing of slugger Josh Hamilton, whose presence in the outfield and lineup was expected to force the Angels to flip a position player for starting pitching depth.

Early reports had the Halos seeking a trading partner for Morales, outfielder/designated hitter Mark Trumbo, or speedy outfielder Peter Bourjos in return for a starting pitcher. They found that trade partner in the Mariners, who gave up Vargas - their No. 2 starter - in exchange for the 29-year-old first baseman.

Morales spent the better part of two years recovering from a devastating ankle injury before returning for 134 games in 2012. The Cuban native hit .273/.320/.467 with 22 home runs, good for a 121 OPS+, and could settle in nicely at first base for the Mariners, who have been disappointed with the progress made by Justin Smoak (.217/.290/.364, 87 OPS+ in 2012).

Vargas, also 29, has pitched for Seattle for each of the last four seasons, logging over 700 innings and 36 wins with a 4.09 ERA. The lefty also made stops in Florida and New York before settling in Seattle. A teammate of Jered Weaver at CSU Long Beach, Vargas joins Joe Blanton and Tommy Hanson as new additions to the Angels rotation.

The Angels won't make any final decisions until Spring Training, but the move appears have settled some questions about defensive alignment. AL MVP runner-up Mike Trout should slide over to left, Bourjos should wind up in center, with new addition Josh Hamilton in right. With the new moves, all three Angels outfielders have played the majority of their careers in center field.

With a plethora of outfielders, Trumbo should settle in as a regular DH, with his homer-happy swing and questionable defense filling that role perfectly.

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