The Kansas City Royals have apparently moved on from attempting to re-sign Ervin Santana, inking former Angels starter Jason Vargas to a four-year, $32 million contract. Vargas was TOC's second-best lefty starter on the market, and our 29th-best free agent overall.
The $8 million average value of the deal is actually a slight decrease from the $8.5 million Vargas made in 2013 with the Angels. Los Angeles apparently tried to bring the lefty back, but didn't want to go beyond three years. Last year, Vargas threw only 150 innings, his lowest total since 2009 when he split the year between AAA and the majors and in between the starting rotation and the bullpen with the Mariners. Vargas missed two months of 2013 during the summer thanks to surgery to remove a blood clot in his left shoulder, and upon returning, he allowed a .292/.349/.444 line in 58 2/3 innings while also pitching to a 4.60 ERA.
It's worth noting that Vargas has spent most of his career in pitchers parks, with four years in Safeco Field and one year in Angel Stadium. Moving to Kauffman Stadium, historically a good hitters park, could prove problematic for Vargas over the life of the contract.
I don't think that signing Vargas necessarily ends Kansas City's spending on their rotation. Their top three is set with Vargas slotting in behind James Shields and Jeremy Guthrie, but the duo of Danny Duffy and Wade Davis at the back of the starting five makes me pause a bit. Ervin Santana will likely end up out of their price range, but Bruce Chen, who has spent the last five years in Kansas City, is still out there and could be a great fall back option in case Duffy and/or Davis doesn't perform well. In all honesty, Davis should probably be in the bullpen on a full-time basis, and Kansas City should look for a veteran as insurance for the back of their rotation.
Four years is a lot for a mediocre guy like Vargas, but an average of $8 million per year isn't egregious. It's a hell of a lot better than $11 million per year for Gil Meche, though.