SEATTLE (AP) - The Los Angeles Angels got the pitching depth they wanted. The Seattle Mariners got the power-bat they so desperately needed.
Two foes in the AL West found a way to work together Wednesday when the Angels traded switch-hitting slugger Kendrys Morales to the Seattle Mariners for left-hander Jason Vargas, filling needs for both teams.
The 29-year-old Morales became expendable after the Angels agreed to a deal last week with free agent slugger Josh Hamilton. The Angels had been looking for a pitcher after losing Zack Greinke and Dan Haren to free agency and trading Ervin Santana.
The Angels added a left-hander to their rotation, while Seattle got a hitter that can instantly take a spot in the middle of its order.
“We were going to try and come up with some type of offense and I think this worked out in a positive way,” Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik said. “Both players are at the end of their contracts.”
Getting Vargas reunites the lefty with his former Long Beach State teammate Jered Weaver at the top of the Angels’ rotation. The duo played college ball together in 2004 and now will be counted on in helping make the big money the Angels spent on Hamilton and Albert Pujols last season pay off.
“I’m back home in California now,” Vargas said. “It’s perfect.”
Vargas grew up in Southern California where his father coached high school baseball. He used to watch his second cousin, infielder Randy Velarde, play for the Angels in the late 1990s.
“Jason was what we were looking for on the market this year: just a steady reliable left-hander who can go out there. He’s got a history of pitching a high volume of innings and clearly I think we make ourselves a little bit better just in that we don’t have to face him because he’s given us fits,” Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said. “So we’re thrilled to make the deal. We feel like this makes us a better, more complete and balanced team.”
In his career, Vargas is 5-4 with a 2.65 ERA and 66 strikeouts in 85 innings pitched against the Angels.
“Those guys out there behind me is outstanding,” he said.
Morales hit .273 with 22 home runs and 73 RBIs last season after missing the entire 2011 season after breaking his leg early in 2010 while celebrating a game-ending grand slam against the Mariners. Morales was at his best later in 2012, hitting .275 with 11 homers, 28 RBIs and an OPS of .827 over the final two months. Among its regular starters, no Seattle hitter had an OPS higher than .738 for the 2012 season.
Morales said his leg got progressively stronger through last season and has felt 100 percent during offseason workouts.