Baltimore Orioles Free Agent Targets: Jason Vargas vs. Jaime Garcia

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 05: Jaime Garcia
CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 05: Jaime Garcia /

With the Baltimore Orioles limited left-handed starting pitching options, two pitchers provide an intriguing free agent market comparison as potential options.

The Baltimore Orioles have indicated the need to acquire and insert a lefty pitcher into the rotation several times this offseason. Currently, the only internal option experience is minor league signing with an invitation to spring training Jayson Aquino.

There is also the possibility of an opening for recent Rule 5 draft pick Nestor Cortes who got the attention of Orioles coaches at mini-camp. Keegan Akin had a great Arizona Fall league and had the stuff to join the rotation one day but maybe a year away from consideration.

In the event of acquiring a lefty starting pitcher through free agency, two names come to mind regarding price range as well as stabilizing the Kevin GausmanDylan Bundy duo. Those two players are Jaime Garcia and Jason Vargas.

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Keep in mind; these guys do not necessarily need to be ace-like, just better than Wade Miley, Jeremy Hellickson, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Chris Tillman of last year. Let’s compare the two pitchers.

Age and Velocity

By Baltimore Orioles Opening Day, Garcia will be 32 years old while Jason Vargas will be 35 years old.  This is not to say he’ll automatically be more successful but Vargas’ second-half decline along with decreasing velocity over the years may have a reason for concern.

Surprisingly enough, Garcia’s velocity numbers have increased slightly over the years, averaging and maintaining a fastball at 91 while Vargas averaged 86-87 according to FanGraphs.

The Make-Up

Garcia has a four-pitch mix with a fastball, change-up, curveball, and slider.  In 2017, Garcia threw his fastball 60.9 percent, along with mixing in his slider (13.9 percent), curve (6.8 percent), and change (18.5 percent) Garcia managed a 4.41 ERA over 157 innings with 129 strikeouts in addition to a WHIP at 1.41 and a FIP to 4.25.

Vargas has a three-pitch mix, heavily relying upon the fastball-changeup combo followed by his curveball. According to FanGraphs, Vargas threw the fastball 47 percent of the time and tunneling that with a change-up 32.7 percent.

He’s not afraid to throw his hammer which he threw 20.3 percent. Lastly, Vargas managed a 4.16 ERA over 179 2/3 innings with 134 strikeouts in addition to a WHIP at 1.33 and a FIP to 4.67.

Baseball-Reference Projections:

  • Garcia is projected to pitch 155.0 innings in 2018 to a 4.35 ERA with a 1.36 WHIP.
  • Vargas is projected to pitch 151.0 innings in 2018 to a 4.29 ERA with a 1.35 WHIP.


Vargas was a mid-season all-star but was a completely different person afterward in having a close to a seven ERA after the break.

Garcia was putting up decent numbers in 2017, however, was the product of being traded twice form the Braves to the Twins and the Twins to the Yankees. Getting traded twice may have affected his ability to adjust.

Next: Orioles Eying Trade for Pitchers Collin McHugh, Jake Odorizzi

Both pitchers profile similarly regarding their projections, Vargas is more home run prone than Garcia as he gave up 27 home runs to Garcia’s 18 in 2017. Given that Camden Yards is a hitter’s park, I feel Garcia would perform better in OPACY than Vargas.

Age, velocity, and repertoire both favor Garcia. While Jason Vargas has been linked with many teams, the Orioles should capitalize on getting Garcia while he remains relatively quiet in rumors.