On one hand it smells like old fashioned due diligence, on the other a potentially legitimate depth move. On a third hand it might even seem like a ploy to further establish JA Happ as a crucial late inning bullpen lefty (i.e. in the absence of Darren Oliver), rather than the club’s sixth starter/swingman. But however many hands you can come up with, it would appear as though the Jays have been taking a look at free agent starter Javier Vazquez.

Zach Links of MLBTR and making delicious beef jerky gets us up to speed:

Alex Cora, who serves as the GM of Vazquez’s team in Puerto Rico, told WEEI’s Hot Stove Show that the Blue Jays have also been scouting the 36-year-old, according to Alex Speier on Twitter.  It’s not clear if the Red Sox or Blue Jays would be willing to give Vazquez a big league contract, but the Nationals aren’t believed to be considering it.

Obviously whether it’s an minor league deal or not is the rub.

There really isn’t any way I could see the Jays giving Vazquez a big league deal, with their rotation already set. Like, does Ricky Romero still have options? Because that’s the sort of question a deal like that would pose, and I just can’t imagine they’d have any interest in going there.

He’d be a great addition on a minor league deal, though– Scott Lewis wrote about this yesterday at Getting Blanked, passing on a tweet from Tim Brown of Yahoo!, who quoted a scout in Puerto Rico saying Vazquez “physically looks great, ball coming out of his hand well, could be a sneaky good pickup”– but as the quote suggests, the problem there is that he isn’t necessarily returning as a humbled, broken down ghost of his former self.

Granted, he’s only had one good year in the last three– his three-win 2011 season with the Marlins– but that’s partly because of the fact that he took 2012 off, and also because he was a dud for the 2010. Prior to that, though, he was capping off a staggering ten-year run with a 6.5 fWAR season in 2009. In fact, if you’re into that kind of Jack Morris arbitrary end-pointed “Most Wins In The 80s” nonsense, you might be shocked to note that only two pitchers (Roy Halladay and Randy Johnson) accumulated more wins above replacement than Vazquez during the aughts.

That doesn’t say a whole lot about the here and now, of course, but that 2011 season in Florida definitely shows some potential for value: his velocity ticked back up after his atrocious down year with the Yankees, and he actually pitched nearly a full run better on the road, by ERA and xFIP, and so wasn’t necessarily a product of the cavernous Joe Robbie Stadium (or whatever they were calling it by then).

And… I don’t know… maybe he sees an opportunity in Toronto, with the injury concerns over Johnson and Morrow and Romero’s performance issues. Buffalo certainly isn’t the Triple-A dealbreaker Vegas used to be, and– for whatever little it’s surely worth– he was an Expo back in AA’s day, so… maybe?

But I’d really be surprised if there wasn’t a better opportunity for him out there, all else being equal.

Would be fun, though. Interesting, at least. And a very tidy piece of depth, if in some crazy world they could convince him to be that.

Comments (54)

  1. I said on my regular forum a week ago when I hear that Vazquez was coming back he’d be a great, cheap edition. He would probably be devastating out of the pen, and if we had enough injuries (someone from the rotation plus Happ) he could start in a pinch. And maybe even do well.

    I was really surprised when he retired in 2011 to be honest. Check out his 2nd half numbers:

    96.1 IP, 2.15 ERA, 0.862 WHIP, .536 OPS

    I’d defiinitely go on a major league deal at, say, $2 million. In a second. I have a feeling he can still be very good.

  2. ….and he would almost certainly cost less then Oliver would. Looks like an excellent place to redirect Olivers money.

    • Yeah, but he doesn’t replace need for lights out situational lefty reliever….and I don’t think he’d return unless he gets at least a few million buck (i.e. $5m+). Vasquez isn’t going to give anyone a discount if it is a one year deal.

      • He said specifically that his only concern is winning. THat’s it. Here’s a quote from MLBTR:

        “”Winning the World Series, quite simply, is the only thing (I’m interested in). It’s a team award, since I’m not interested in individual awards. In truth, what I’m missing is a World Series victory…If I decide (to play), it doesn’t matter for what team, as long as they have a good possibility to get to the championship. I’m not going to sign with a team knowing that I’m going to lose,” said Vazquez (translation courtesy of Nick Collias).”

        Sounds to me like exactly the guy who WILL give a discount to a WS contender. Which we are.

        • No disagreement there, but I think he’s seeking a rotation slot & significant money as his starting points, w/ World Series calibre team being his requirement. He made $7m in his last season in the majors & while I’m just guessing, I’d think he’d want no less than $5m to join a team.

          Given those parameters, again if correct, I think he’d likely going to join a team like the Angles over the Jays, who would be able to meet all three criteria.

        • Winning? How did that work out for Charlie Sheen?

    • The Oliver money will either go to Oliver or another RP, I’m sure. No reason to think they’ll give Javier Vazquez a guaranteed MLB contract to serve as the team’s 7th starter.

      • I’m guessing Vazquez is still better than Buehrle & Happ, and very likely Romero too.

        • At this point, I would say the more likely scenario is Buehrle > Romero > Vazquez > Happ. I think you are greatly underestimating Buehrle – his defense, which is not accounted for in WAR or traditional pitching stats, puts him well ahead of that pack.

        • Lol…man are you fucking serious? You think it’s LIKELY vazquez would be an upgrade over Buerhle and Romero this season? There’s a chance he could be, but to say it’s likely is insane.

        • Could be, but irrelevant because Buerhle and Romero aren’t going to lose a rotation spot.

          • I wouldn’t be so convinced that Romero won’t lose a rotation spot. Most teams would have sent him to the minors last year.

  3. He would be a nice depth move but I agree that if he is going to come back it would only be for a chance at a mlb job which the Jays can’t really offer him right now.

  4. I think the Jays would have a better shot of going after a Roy Oswalt as a depth player than Vasquez. Vasquez would want a commitment to be a part of the starting rotation and a major league deal…..while Oswalt sucked out of the pen last year, he might be willing to accept a minor league deal with an out clause for June call up and he could be a valuable addition under those terms. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t prefer Vasquez to Oswalt, just that Oswalt may be the better fit given the role the Jays would want him to play.

    • Oswalt is a dick. He was so pissed off when he was sent to the pen he threatened to quit. I doubt he’d settle for anything less than starting in the majors never mind a minor leauge deal.

      • Yeah, but we don’t know what the Rangers offered him to join. Agree that from the outside he didn’t handle situation well, but he also didn’t join team for start of year and the whole season was a waste for him….that said, he was a perennial all-star and there’s no harm offering him chance to either be righty long-man w/ potential to start and/or minor league deal. That said, I don’t think either Vasquez or Oswalt are going to join Jays, but my thinking was odds would be better for Oswalt to join than Vasquez.

        • Disagree, there’s nothing to show that Oswalt would be more receptive to a depth role than Vazquez, infact evidence seems to point to the opposite.

  5. dude… so early!

    PS: jack links… HA!

  6. I don’t know whether I’d pick up Vasquez or Jair jurrens as the sixth/seventh starter for 2013.

  7. Totally unrelated to anything, but did anyone listen to the newest 1/3/2013 episode of Baseball Today with Keith Law? When he was talking about Brett Myers and his wife, it sounded like he was gonna cry lol. Who knew the prick had feelings.

  8. All the Expos of yesterday, today.

  9. can anyone tell me what the wrong four letters song is? it’s literally been bugging me since they changed from it.

  10. Likely due diligence at this point – he pitches tonight for his winter ball team..

    If he truly is still in his old all-star form (which he was at the end of 2011, with a fastball at 91-94 mph), then he should be seriously considered. This could be a fantastic depth move, especially considering Ricky’s 2012 season, but right now there’s not much there other than Alex Cora saying a Jays scout will be in attendance tonight. Let’s see how JV does tonight, and go from there.

    If (big if) the Jays do acquire him, hopefully he spent his 2012 sabbatical getting juiced up.

  11. Interesting tweet from Elliott.
    When asked ” any update on Ashby’s movements?”
    Elliott replies ” He gone”

    Drat.

  12. Might as well give Tomo Ohka a call

    jokes…

  13. According to MLB Depth Charts (http://www.mlbdepthcharts.com/ go to the Blue Jays page and click on the guy’s name) Romero was strictly in the minors ’05-’08. In ’09 he started in the minors and came up to the Jays part way through the season. Once in Toronto, he was never sent back down. Therefore, he should have all three of his options left. Agree, though, that the Jays do not want to go there unless it is as a last resort. You can usually figure out the options thing using the above site, but is sure would be nice were there a site that just listed guys with options.

      • I forgot about the veteran’s consent clause. He does not yet have five years service time so they could send him down this year.

        • I’m pretty sure this is the part that applies for RR:

          “Once a player has been placed on a team’s 40-man roster, a team has 3 option years on that player.”

          He’s been on the 40-man AT LEAST 4 years, so it looks like he is out of options.

          • There’s a difference between having option years and using them. When he was added to the 40 man he had 3 options, but unless Toronto sent him down after that he hasn’t used any options.

            The veterans clause is a different matter, obviously.

          • @Kyle

            Confusing stuff!

            So basically RR can be optioned – because the Jays haven’t used any options on him yet – up until he reaches 5 years services time, when the Veteran’s Content kicks in?

  14. Do you think Javier could/would pitch out of the bullpen as a swing guy?

  15. Sprechen sie deutsch?

    Ja ja……

  16. I think that considering what the Jays have done in the off season that if Oliver doesn’t want to be a part of this team then say goodbye. He signed his contract and AA did his job. If being apart of a team that works as hard as AA et al do then go pitch for someone else. There is no “I” in ‘Honor your contract’.

  17. What I meant to say was; If being apart of a team that works as hard as AA et al do isn’t a valuable enough incentive to play, then go pitch for someone else. I think I will take my 12 month break from posting now.

  18. IIRC, Vazquez has had no trade protection from west coast teams in the past due to family reasons.

    So it’s very possible he would prefer to play on the east coast.

    And he isn’t going back to New York I would think.

    If he truly wants to play for a contender, perhaps a minor league deal with a May 1 opt out date or something could work with the Jays.

  19. Vazquez is a neat idea but agree that there has to be an NL team out there who needs starting pitching

  20. Just don’t let him pitch in Yankee stadium

  21. RobA… you talk too much .. like anybody cares what you think..
    don’t be gay and comment on everybodies comments.
    Your just as annoying as Rob Pizzo’s pics ATS…
    Aint worth shit !

  22. Stoeten,

    Romero very much so has minor league options, unless Beeston/AA included something silly in his contract (very unlikely).

    Under current MLB CBA rules, a player has three minor league option years, which a player must accept until he/she has 5 years of service time.

    None of Romero’s three option years have been used, and Romero does not have 5 years of service time and thus cannot refuse a demotion (unless his contract says so, which again, is a bold assumption to think Beeston and AA were that thick).

    This is primarily why Lind was demoted about 50-100 days of service before he hit 5 years last year, though they ended up DFA’ing him anyways in an attempt to have someone claim his contract. Lind had no right to refuse a demotion then, much like Romero has no right now.

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