For the second straight year, the Oakland Athletics have overachieved and are Wild Card contenders. Likely to concede a second-place finish at best in the American League West, they can make a strong push at the one-game playoff. They will need some more starting pitchers to make it happen.
The biggest blow they received this summer was the loss of Frankie Montas. The 26-year-old righty was suspended for 80 games after testing positive for PEDs. Already a little short on starter talent, Vargas may be a cheap arm to help out.
Of course, the hurdle here is how much money the typically frugal Athletics would be willing to pay of Vargas’ remaining contract. It’s not a hefty sum by baseball standards. And last season, they didn’t balk at making the Mets pay for the final two months of Jeurys Familia.
The Athletics have gotten some good starts from Brett Anderson, Chris Bassitt, and Mike Fiers. Beyond those three, it’s up to the bullpen to secure leads. Unless the Athletics are outslugging a team, their chances at success are usually slimmer than most. They simply do not have enough big-league starters.
Seeing how the Athletics probably won’t land a big name at this year’s trade deadline, Vargas may be the next best thing. If he can at least give them quality outings in their big ballpark, perhaps there’s a match and a deal to be done.
There are few guarantees with the Athletics. Along with Khris Davis finishing the year with a .247 batting average, the willingness to acquire a starter past his prime is one of them. This year, Vargas may be the guy.