Bill Ladson of MLB.COM reported today that right-handed starting pitcher Javier Vazquez would be interested in possibly playing for the Washington Nationals next season:
“Yankees right-hander Javier Vazquez would be interested in playing on an East Coast team next season, including the Nationals, according to a baseball source close to the hurler….Vazquez is expected to become a free agent after the World Series is over.”
Vazquez has been one of the most consistent overall starters in the major leagues in the past 10 years, pitching at least 150 innings in each year over that span. During that time Vazquez has struck out at least 190 batters seven times, posted a sub-four ERA five times, and earned one All-Star appearance. However he posted the worst season of is career in 2010, posting a 10-10 record with a 5.32 ERA in 26 starts for the Yankees.
At 34-years-old some may argue that Vazquez is over the hill. While they could be correct, its interesting to note that the last time he pitched this poorly was in 2004, which was also the last time he pitched for the Yankees. It simply may be possible that like many other talented pitchers, Vazquez just does not like pitching in the Bronx. However the Nationals can’t ignore the fact that he struck out batters at a much lower rate in 2010, as well as walked batters at the highest rate of his career.
For Vazquez, it is probably a smart move to try and return to the National League where he has experienced far more success in his career. Over eight years in the NL he has posted a 90-93 record with a 4.02 ERA with an 8.1 K/9 ratio and just a 2.3 BB/9 ratio. Just one year ago for the Braves, Vazquez was 15-10 with a 2.87 ERA and 238 strikeouts in 32 starts. With that track record, some National League team will have to take a chance on the 34-year-old.
He is coming off of a three year $34.5 million contract this season which saw him earn $11.5 last season. After such a terrible showing though, he is due for a serious pay decrease. The Nationals might do well to sign him to a one or two year incentive laden deal with a base pay of $4-6 million a year. If he is serious about signing with the Nationals I think there will be little debate in Washington’s front office of whether or not to sign him, however I wouldn’t be surprised if Vazquez would sign with any East Coast competitor he could.