Earlier this week, the Rockies signed relief pitchers Claudio Vargas and Sean White to minor league contracts. Both players are coming off terrible 2010 seasons and are long-shots to make a difference for the team next season — thus the minor league contracts.
Vargas is an eight-year veteran that has played for five franchises — six, if you count the Expos and the Nationals as two separate teams. From 2003 through 2007, he was a very average starting pitcher, never winning more than twelve games in a season. In 2009, pitching from the bullpen for the Dodgers then the Brewers, Claudio had a breakout year. He appeared in thirty-six games with a 1.74 ERA and a very impressive .968 WHIP. However, 2010 was the worst year of Vargas’s career. He was shelled in 17 appearances, causing the Brewers to designate him for assignment early in the season. Vargas will turn thirty-three in June.
Sean White made his Major League debut in 2007 for the Mariners and has pitched in 105 games over the last three seasons. White was border-line dominant in 2009. He amassed 64.1 relief innings in 52 appearances with a 2.80 ERA and a 1.088 WHIP. Like Vargas, White regressed significantly in 2010. His 1.631 WHIP was the worst of his career and he gave up nearly 12 hits per every 9 innings.
The Rox are hoping to catch lightning in a bottle with Vargas or White. If either pitcher can duplicate his 2009 success, he will be a cheap addition to the bullpen next season. Expect the Rockies to make several more low risk signings before spring training begins.