Royals sign Jason Vargas to 4-year, $32 million contract

Jeff Gross

Kansas City has landed its first big piece of the offseason.

The Kansas City Royals have completed their first big play of the offseason, signing free-agent starter Jason Vargas to a four-year deal, the team has announced. As always, the deal is pending a physical.

More Royals: Rule 5 decisions

The deal will pay the left-hander $32 million over the four years, per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. While that might seem like a lot at first glance, the average annual value of the contract -- $8 million -- is actually half a million less than he earned in his final year of arbitration.

The Angels reportedly had a three-year, $24 million deal on the table for Vargas, per Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times, but were unwilling to tack on a fourth season.

Vargas, 30, is no one's idea of a frontline starter, but he has pitched well as an innings-eater for the Mariners and Angels over the last four seasons. The southpaw has averaged 190 innings pitched over that span while posting a 3.97 earned-run average and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of better than two-to-one.

That being said, 2013 was something of a mixed bag for the veteran lefty. Acquired by the Angels in a one-for-one swap for Kendrys Morales last winter, Vargas pitched well when he was healthy. He started the year well, putting up a 3.65 ERA through the middle of June, but then missed a significant amount of time with a blood clot in his throwing shoulder. When he eventually returned in August, Vargas didn't have his best stuff, posting a 4.60 ERA over his final 10 starts.

A fly-ball pitcher by trade, the big concern that has always surrounded Vargas is how he would fare when his home park wasn't a pitcher-friendly environment. The left-hander was more than a run worse on the road than at home (3.30 vs. 4.82) in Anaheim last season, and his splits were even worse when he called Safeco Field home. Those concerns could be put to the test at Kaufmann Stadium, though the park did suppress a lot of home runs last season.

The Angels did not attach a qualifying offer to Vargas when he hit the open market at the beginning of November, so his signing will not cost the Royals a 2014 draft pick.

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