Royals manager Ned Yost announced today that left-hander Jason Vargas will be activated and will start Saturday’s game against Chicago, according to beat writer Rustin Dodd. Vargas has missed the entire season, and has been out since last July when he was diagnosed with a sprained UCL, which required Tommy John surgery.
The 33-year old Vargas is in the third year of a four-year, $32 million deal with the Royals. He will earn $8.5 million this year and $8 million in 2017, although around $6 million of his salary this year was covered by insurance. It is not expected that his starts will affect the insurance payment. As Rustin Dodd explained:
The Royals’ insurance policy covered all but the first 60 days of the season and was based on the number of days that Vargas missed. If he would have missed the whole season, the policy would have covered about $6 million of his $8.5 million salary. But Vargas returning in September won’t affect the policy at all. The insurance payouts will simply stop if and when he returns to the active roster.
Dillon Gee was originally scheduled to be the starter on Saturday against Miguel Gonzlaez, but he will come in relief for Vargas. Vargas will throw just three innings on Saturday, and Yost says he would like Vargas to get 10-15 innings under his belt this year. In 39 career starts with the Royals, Vargas has a 16-12 record and a 3.79 ERA.
The Royals will have to open up a 40-man roster spot to make room for Vargas, who is currently on the 60-day disabled list. The Royals could call up Kyle Zimmer and place him on the 60-day disabled list. Tony Cruz, Miguel Almonte, Ramon Torres, and Daniel Nava could also be candidates to be designated for assignment.
Vargas is expected to be part of a 2017 rotation that includes Danny Duffy, Yordano Ventura, Ian Kennedy, and likely Matt Strahm.