Opinion on the Internet about the Jason Vargas / Kendry Morales trade -- Vargas to the Angels, Morales to the Mariners -- seems to be unanimous: This was the perfect deal, with both teams giving up what they didn't need and both teams getting something they did.
Well, okay ... Nothing's unanimous on the Internet. But there seems to be a consensus.
The Mariners dealt from an organizational strength to cover for an organizational weakness, and the Angels patched up their organizational weakness by dealing from an organizational strength. That's how it's supposed to work. Welcome to the simplest trade of the year.
Vargas (average pitcher) for Morales (average hitter) makes sense for both teams, especially since contracts are basically the same.— David Cameron (@DCameronFG) December 19, 2012
ESPN.com's David Schoenfield:
In a rare intradivision trade, the Los Angeles Angels traded Kendrys Morales to the Seattle Mariners for Jason Vargas, and while I like the upside a little better for the Mariners, it looks like a trade that should work for both teams.
I'm here today with one goal: Make the Internet less consensual!
I don't understand why the Mariners made this trade. While it is perhaps true that when you consider park effects, you're drawn to the conclusion that Kendry Morales is actually more talented than Jason Vargas, I believe that's still begging the question. Jonathan Franzen is more talented than Jason Vargas, too, and could probably do one hell of a job on the Mariners' 2013 Information Guide. That doesn't mean it would make sense to trade for him.
I don't understand how Kendrys Morales gets the Mariners where they want to go. He's eligible for free agency next winter. Maybe the M's are considering this season a try-out, and if Morales looks good they'll make a serious run at locking him for a few more years. Would that be a good thing? He turns 30 next June. Signing mid-range sluggers in their early 30s to multi-year deals usually doesn't work out real well.
Morales certainly helps the Mariners' lineup, and Vargas's departure clears the way for one of the Mariners' talented young starters. Those are probably good things. To what end, though? Are the Mariners suddenly contenders in the tough American League West? That seems unlikely. Are the Mariners going to sell more than a few extra tickets because Kendrys Morales is creating more runs than Justin Smoak ever did? That also seems unlikely.
This move seems like a modest effort to make the Mariners better; to win more games, which after all is usually considered the point of the thing. But the M's won 75 games last season. If they win 80, or even 85 games in 2013, will they have done well in this trade?
I don't know. If I'm a Mariners fan, maybe I'm thrilled with 80 wins. Maybe it would feel like progress. But this would seem like short-lived progress. It seems to me that Jason Vargas averages more than 200 league-average innings per season, and a pitcher like that might have brought back a solid prospect or two, who might have helped the club win 90 games in 2014 and beyond.
Then again, it might rain tomorrow.