Days after Brad Penny signed with the Red Sox and Derek Lowe re-engaged in negotiations with the Mets, the Dodgers made a move that could help restock their starting rotation. The team reportedly reached a deal with free agent Claudio Vargas, a 30-year-old right-hander known for his deliberate pace, who twice was designated for assignment in 2008 after posting double-digit win totals the previous two seasons. The agreement was reported early Wednesday morning on the Los Angeles Times' Web site. According to the report, Vargas will earn the Major League minimum salary of $400,000, but can add an additional $1.4 million with incentives.
Vargas' best season was with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2006, when he went 12-10 with a 4.83 ERA in a career-high 30 starts (plus one relief stint). He was part of a six-player trade between the D-backs and Brewers after that season and went 11-6 with a 5.09 ERA in 2007, then reported to camp in 2008 as one of five Brewers pitchers vying for three open spots in the starting rotation. That bid ended on March 25 when Milwaukee officials made the surprising decision to release Vargas after attempts to trade him were unsuccessful. Vargas signed a Minor League deal with the Mets on April 10, and he was 3-2 with a 4.62 ERA in 11 big league appearances for the Mets, including four starts, before New York designated him for assignment on June 25. Vargas will turn 31 on June 19 and has pitched in 164 Major League games for five teams in six seasons. Incidentally, Vargas' favorite player, according to his MLB.com biography, is free-agent slugger Manny Ramirez, a fellow Dominican and a Dodgers offseason target.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.