Free Agent Stock Watch: Javier Vazquez

The Yankees acquired Javier Vazquez from the Braves last offseason to help solidify the back of their rotation, but he's proven to be of little help. It was the second time Vazquez was traded in as many offseasons, and the fifth time he was dealt in six years. Despite being in the show for 13 seasons now, he has never been a free agent, instead opting for security in the form of contract extensions. Let's look at Vazquez's stock as he prepares to hit the open market for the first time… 

The Good

  • Vazquez has a reputation as one of the game's best workhorses, logging at least 198 innings (under 200 IP just once) and 32 starts every year from 2000 to 2009. His strikeout-to-unintentional walk ratio is an amazing 2,001-488 during that time (8.3 K/9, 2.0 BB/9).
  • He projects as a Type-B free agent, so whatever team signs him would not have to surrender a draft pick to do so. Regardless, the Yanks are unlikely to offer him arbitration anyway. 

The Bad

  • At 34-years-old, Vazquez is no spring chicken and all of those innings might finally be catching up to him. His average fastball velocity has dipped to just 88.7 mph this year, down from 91.1 last year and 91.7 the year before. It's gotten worse as the season has gone on as well.
  • His performance this season ranks among the worst in his career. His 157.1 IP are his fewest since 1999, and his 5.32 ERA forced the Yankees to remove him from the rotation (and into long relief) earlier this month in favor of rookie starter Ivan Nova.
  • Javy is also extremely homer prone, allowing 32 this season and no fewer than 20 in any single season of his career.
  • Vazquez has always preferred to remain on the East Coast, close to his home and family in Puerto Rico, so West Coast clubs are likely out of luck.

The Verdict 

Vazquez seemed like a lock for a multi-year deal coming into the season, but it's hard to imagine him getting more than one guaranteed year right now. He'll likely have to settle for a one-year "prove yourself" kind of contract and hope he improves his stock next season. That said, if an offseason of rest helps him regain his old form, Vazquez could end up being a potential bargain on a short-term, low-money deal.