Angels trade Kendrys Morales to Mariners for Jason Vargas

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Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto has been searching for rotation help and shopping extra bats, and MLB.com reports that he’s found a fit by trading first baseman/designated hitter Kendrys Morales to the Mariners for left-hander Jason Vargas.

It’s a rare deal between division rivals, but the Mariners have whiffed on several free agent hitting targets and certainly need more quality bats in a lineup that ranked dead last among AL teams in scoring. After missing most of 2010 and all of 2011 with a broken ankle Morales bounced back to stay healthy and hit .273 with 22 homers and a .787 OPS in 134 games. The switch-hitter is eligible for free agency next offseason, so it’s a short-term pickup for Seattle.

Vargas has been a solid innings-eater for the Mariners during the past three seasons, throwing 217, 201, and 193 innings with a 3.96 ERA. Some of that is thanks to a pitcher-friendly home ballpark–from 2010-2012 he had a 3.46 ERA in Seattle and a 4.53 ERA on the road. Of course, the Angels’ ballpark is pitcher-friendly too, as a fly-ball pitcher Vargas will benefit from their strong outfield defense, and they’d probably take 200 innings of a four-something ERA from him happily. Vargas, like Morales, is eligible for free agency next offseason.

Good but not great first baseman/designated hitter for good but not great starting pitcher, both with one season of team control remaining. Seems pretty fair and fills obvious needs for both teams involved, which helps explain the willingness to trade within the division.

UPDATE: Conflicting reports on the Blue Jays calling up Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

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UPDATE: Welp, Hécto Gómez may not have this one right. Scott Mitchell of TSN is reporting that it’s “highly unlikely” Guerrero is recalled unless some sort of injury occurs, so I suppose we should all stand down.

Anyone up for keeping him down until the Super Two cutoff in June?

3:35 PM: Héctor Gómez‏, a baseball writer from the Dominican Republic, reports that The Blue Jays will call up Vladimir Guerrero Jr. He will reportedly make his MLB’s debut on Tuesday. The Blue Jays have not confirmed this yet, but I’m sure we’ll hear sometime this weekend.

As we’ve noted over and over, Guerrero has nothing left to prove in the minors and has not had anything to prove there for some time. Guerrero is currently 7-for-17, with a line of .412/.500/.824 in five Triple-A games this year. In one he hit the ball clear the heck out of the stadium. This coming off a 2018 season in which he hit .381/.437/.636 with 20 home runs and 78 RBI in 408 minor league plate appearances.

A minor injury in spring training made Guerrero unavailable for Opening Day and gave the Jays cover to keep him down in the minors to start the season. With that Guerrero is ensured of not getting a full year’s worth of service time in 2019 and thus the Jays have obtained a full six years of control of him after this season. As such, there really is no baseball nor business reason to keep him down on the farm any longer.