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

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Ervin Santana is almost certain to leave Kansas City as a free agent and the Royals announced that they’ve replaced him in the rotation with Jason Vargas, signing the left-hander to a four-year contract. Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com says it’s worth $32 million.

Vargas was traded from the Mariners to the Angels for Kendrys Morales last offseason and threw 150 innings with a 4.02 ERA, missing time with a blood clot in his arm pit.

He’s a 30-year-old soft-tosser with a 4.30 career ERA, but Kansas City should be a good home ballpark for masking Vargas’ homer-related issues and before the blood cot he’d thrown 193, 201, and 217 innings the previous three seasons.

Vargas is a decent enough mid-rotation starter, but much like with Jeremy Guthrie last offseason the Royals are making a very long and expensive commitment to a mediocre 30-something starter. The Angels didn’t make Vargas a qualifying offer for fear he’d accept the one-year, $14.1 million deal, so they won’t get any compensation for his departure and he won’t cost the Royals a draft pick.

Athletics hire third base coach Matt Williams

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The Athletics have hired former MLB manager Matt Williams, the team announced Friday. Williams will take over third base coaching duties under manager Bob Melvin, filling the vacancy left by Nationals’ bench coach Chip Hale after the 2017 season.

Williams is no stranger to the Bay Area, but this will be his first time sporting the green and gold. He got his start in pro ball with the rival Giants in 1987, where he manned third base and collected four All-Star nominations before jumping ship to the American League in 1997. After a one-year stint in the Indians’ organization, he returned to the NL to finish off his 17-season career and eventually hung up his cleats with the Diamondbacks in 2003.

Post-retirement, Williams has crafted a resume that almost over-qualifies him for a coaching gig. He led the Nationals to a cumulative 179-145 record from 2014 to 2015 and earned props as NL Manager of the Year after bringing the team to a first-place finish in 2014. In 2016, he split the season as a first and third base coach in the D-backs’ organization, then accepted a studio analyst position with the Giants for the 2017 season. Although he has yet to suit up for the Athletics in any role, he’s not unfamiliar with skipper Bob Melvin. The two were teammates on the Giants’ 1987-88 roster and spent some time in Arizona together when Melvin took a coaching job there in the early 2000s.

While next year’s reunion will be fun to watch (unless, I suppose, you’re a Giants fan with a long memory), Williams may not have his sights set on a coaching role forever. As the San Francisco Chronicle’s John Shea reported back in July, the 51-year-old knows what it feels like to win as a manager, and it’s a position he might be open to pursuing in the future.

“For me, my most comfortable space is in uniform,” he told Shea. “I’ve done the ownership thing and front-office stuff, and that’s fun. The most gratification I get is swinging a fungo and throwing batting practice and being on the field. It’s what you know and love. I look at myself as a teacher first and foremost. At the end of the day, I think that’s how I have my greatest influence.”