MLB Free Agency: Are Haren & Vargas Fantasy Relevant on New Teams?

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Two more pieces to the 2013-2014 offseason puzzle have fallen into place with Jason Vargas signing with the Kansas City Royals, and Dan Haren returning to California to sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Just so we all get a sense of what we’re looking at from these two, let’s have a look at what they did in 2013. 

Dan Haren

Split
IP
H
BB
ER
K
W-L
ERA
WHIP
Career2046.120004268511736129-1113.741.186
2013169.2179318815110-144.671.238

Jason Vargas

Split
IP
H
BB
ER
K
W-L
ERA
WHIP
Career979.299130146863951-584.301.319
201315016246671099-84.021.387

When you look at the last season from each of these guys and consider that neither are exactly rookies (Haren will be 33 in 2014, Vargas will be 31), you wouldn’t exactly think that these are moves that will have a big impact on fantasy baseball. But, these guys were ranked 34th and 35th on MLB Trade Rumors Free Agent List, and you can never have enough depth in starting pitching, there’s no reason that we can’t at least explore their value on their new teams. So, who don’t we do this one-by-one.

 

Haren

The first thing I like about this move is that for whatever reason, Nationals Park was just not kind to Haren. Even in a rough 2013 season, the road was much better. 

Split
IP
H
BB
ER
K
W-L
ERA
WHIP
Home75841246675-65.521.280
Road94.2951942845-83.991.204

So, that’s how he did in his old home. What about his new home? Well, he had one very good start there last season, but that’s not exactly the sample size that we’re looking for. So, let’s see what he’s done at Dodger Stadium throughout his career. 

Split
IP
H
BB
ER
K
W-L
ERA
WHIP
Career in LA49501219382-33.491.265

Dodger Stadium is consistently one of the best places to pitch in the league, so getting half of his outings there will benefit Haren.

Really, there’s not a lot that I don’t like about this move. Given his last few seasons, I’m not going to race to bring Haren aboard on any of my fantasy teams and wouldn’t suggest anyone out there does, but I love the potential sleeper value he brings if he makes it past the drafts.

Looking at all of the numbers, this is what I would advise fantasy owners do in regards to Haren in 2014. Unless you are in an incredibly deep league (probably 14 teams or more), don’t draft him. If someone takes the risk and it pans out, tip your cap to him, but don’t use a draft pick on him. But if he starts well, realize that this is a pitcher with a decorated past and in a good situation for fantasy success, so jump on the bandwagon. Once he’s there, don’t be too patient with him, but this is too good a pitcher to not have on your radar right now.

 

Vargas

I’m having a hard time finding too many people with positive things to say about this signings. To be fair, most of what I hear concerns the money that he received, which is a valid complaint that I happen to agree with. But in fantasy baseball, the stats are the only thing that matter, not whether the player who generated them was overpaid, underpaid, or perfectly paid.

In the case of Vargas, we’re not talking about a guy who offers a ton of fantasy value. His walk rates are fine, but he’s around the plate too often and doesn’t have the stuff to keep his WHIP down at a reasonable level.

Case in point, Vargas’ lowest career WHIP was his 1.178 mark in 2012. After that, it was a 1.251 mark in 2010. Otherwise, nothing below 1.30 and unless we’re talking about a big strikeout guy or a guy who can reliably exceed 15 wins, we’re not talking about much fantasy value, at least long term.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

I still like where Vargas stands as a spot-starter, and I can guess that he’ll find his way into a few Dixon’s Picks next year. Because he walks few hitters, he’s the kind of guy you want on the mound against a bad offensive team, especially in a good pitcher’s park, Which Kauffman Stadium is.

This doesn’t sound like much to write home about. But remember that the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox were each in the Bottom-5 of Major League Baseball in 2013 — both are divisional opponents.

Don’t draft Vargas. With Haren, you at least get a strikeout guy. But Vargas is the kind of guy who can get you some reliable quality starts. I’d say that he’s more valuable in head-to-head leagues, especially if they go beyond the standard 5×5 categories. If you’re wise with him, Vargas still has good prospects for streamers.

Topics: Dan Haren, Jason Vargas

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