The Royals made the biggest move of the day on Thursday, bolstering their starting rotation by signing free-agent left-hander Jason Vargas to a four-year, $32 million contract. Vargas, who will turn 31 in February, went 9-8 with a 4.02 ERA last season for the Angels, who now have another hole to fill on their staff.
Meanwhile, Wednesday night’s big trade between the Rangers and Tigers continued to hold the baseball world’s attention. The swap of Ian Kinsler and Prince Fielder could have far-reaching implications. Among them:
- The trade gives the Tigers additional financial flexibility they could use to pursue contract extensions for Max Scherzer and/or Miguel Cabrera, writes our Jason Beck. There also is the issue of how Detroit will adjust defensively, with Cabrera likely shifting to first and opening up a spot at third that could be filled by top prospect Nick Castellanos.
- The ripple effects from the deal could surface in Cincinnati, says our Mark Sheldon, impacting the Reds’ potential plans to move second baseman Brandon Phillips.
- Kinsler’s departure from Texas likely eliminates the possibility of the Rangers parting with Elvis Andrus. That gives the Cardinals one fewer option in their pursuit of a shortstop, as our Jenifer Langosch explains.
In other news from around the league on Thursday:
- The Tigers moved quickly to their next order of business, re-signing lefty Phil Coke to a one-year deal to avoid arbitration.
- The Giants have agreed to a deal to keep left-handed specialist Javier Lopez in San Francisco, with multiple reports indicating he will receive a three-year contract.
- The Angels and Cardinals have discussed a swap that would send third baseman David Freese to Anaheim in exchange for an outfielder, such as Peter Bourjos.
- After adding Josh Johnson to their starting rotation, the Padres will return their focus to acquiring a left-handed hitter, tweets our Corey Brock.
- Our Adam McCalvy writes that the Brewers aren’t likely to trade Ryan Braun but could move him from left field to right.
- Ike Davis tells our Anthony DiComo that while he would like to stay with the Mets, he understands that there is a significant chance the club could deal him this offseason.
- Lance Berkman’s agent told Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that his client is leaning toward retirement. The 15-year veteran, who turns 38 in February, posted a .700 OPS for the Rangers last season, and injuries have limited him to 105 games over the past two years.
- The agent for free-agent catcher Brian McCann told Alex Speier of Boston’s WEEI that his client is willing to spend some time at first base and designated hitter with a new team.
- The Rays are working toward a two-year deal to retain the services of catcher Jose Molina, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney.
- The Dodgers and Giants have free-agent right-hander Dan Haren among their targets as they look to add pitching, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and MLB Network.
- Although outfielder Curtis Granderson became a free agent when he rejected the Yankees’ qualifying offer, the club remains interested in bringing him back, reports the New York Post.
— Andrew Simon