— Alden Gonzalez (@Alden_Gonzalez) December 19, 2012
The Angels said they wanted an inning eater in exchange for Kendrys Morales and it appears that is exactly what they got. The Angels outfield/DH logjam is a little clearer now as Jerry Dipoto shipped out his most expendable bat – a DH with only one year remaining on his contract – in exchange for a reliable back of the rotation arm in Jason Vargas.
Vargas is the type of pitcher who benefited greatly from his time spent in spacious Safeco Field – until the home run ball caught up with him. After posting two consecutive seasons of 200 innings of league average-ish 4.00 FIP ball, Vargas allowed 35 home runs in 2012. Like Morales, Vargas is a free agent at the end of the season.
Kendrys Morales is tough to figure. After missing nearly two full seasons with injury, Morales posted solid numbers in his first season back, though his .339 wOBA is a far cry from his level of production before breaking his ankle celebrating a walkoff victory. He did manage 22 home runs in 522 plate appearances in 2012, getting playing time at first base though he is basically a DH at heart.
The Angels get an insurance arm to add to their collection of not-super-great starters, players all hoping to benefit from Mike Trout and Peter Bourjos‘ home run stealing prowess. The Mariners get some pop in the sadsack lineup, though the ongoing presence of Jesus Montero suggests Seattle wants Morales to play first base just about every day.
Morales is all but guaranteed to provide significant upgrade over Mike Carp – but what about Justin Smoak? John Jaso? Though the relative quality of these players shouldn’t mean any of them are promised anything other than a warm meal and a clean bed.
Does this mean the Angels are set? Mark Trumbo probably has a job every day now but the Angels are still paying their fifth outfielder $21 million this season. The Angels shopping might not be done, as this rotation still doesn’t look like a World Series contender to these eyes.