The Detroit Tigers signed first baseman/designated hitter Kennys Vargas to a minor league contract recently, but what does this signing mean for the team in 2020? The simplest way to put is… he is an investment and provides depth.
The Detroit Tigers have brought in, yet another former Minnesota Twins player with the signing of Kennys Vargas who spent last season in Japan with the Chiba Lotte Marines. It is a minor-league contract that does not take up a 40-man roster spot and allows the organization to make an investment and also add organizational depth to the Triple-A staff.
Vargas is most likely not going to see a lick of time in the big leagues this season, but if he manages to show the power tool being there, he could be kept around and given more opportunities.
Vargas has not played in an MLB game since 2017 with the Twins where he played in seventy-eight games. Over the course of 2017, Vargas had a .253/.444/.314 slash line with eleven home runs and forty-one RBI for the Twins. He then spent time in Triple-A before moving to the Mexican Leagues for 2018.
As mentioned above, he would travel overseas for the 2019 season, where he played in Japan as well as thirty-one games in the Puerto Rican Winter Leagues. He played in a combined 120 games in 2019 with a .245/.409/.366 slash line with eleven home runs and fifty-two RBI in total.
The bottom line is, at the bare minimum, Vargas will provide organizational depth for the Tigers at the Triple-A level. He has the ability to be one of the Tigers better first basemen in the minor leagues if he can show any flashes of power for the Toledo Mud Hens. Currently, he is slated to be in Triple-A alongside Frank Schwindel and Josh Lester.
There is a chance that third baseman Isaac Paredes also gets some work over at first base as he comes up through the minor leagues. Utility man Brandon Dixon is also slated to be at the Triple-A level and could be competition for a first base role here and there.
Essentially, the Tigers took a chance on Vargas, banking on his power spiking in his return to Major League Baseball and the Triple-A affiliate. It is a win-win for the Tigers, personally, the team gets a cheap first baseman who can play for the Triple-A team at the very minimum.
At most, they get a player who reinvents himself and starts to hit for power and can add to the Tigers lineup in 2021 assuming he would be brought back and added to the 40-man roster, this is extremely unlikely, but looking at the best-case scenario, that is it. Vargas has been through the minor leagues before, he is twenty-nine years old and can help some of the younger guys at the Triple-A develop as they move through the system on their road to the big leagues.
As much as this is a minor signing, it seems like adding Vargas should ultimately do some good for the team, even if the stat sheets do not show it come July/August of 2020.