Ramon Vazquez Rumors

Mariners Sign Ramon Vazquez

The Mariners signed infielder Ramon Vazquez to a minor league deal, according to a team press release.  Vazquez, who originally came up in the organization, will stay in extended spring training before being assigned to a minor league team.  The Pirates are on the hook for Vazquez's $2MM, minus a big league salary if he makes it.  The Bucs released Vazquez eleven days ago.

Vazquez, 33, hit .230/.335/.279 last year in 239 plate appearances last year, playing second base, shortstop, and third base and dealing with a knee injury.  He can be useful against right-handed pitching.

Mariners Interested In Ramon Vazquez

The Mariners are interested in Ramon Vazquez and could reach a deal with the infielder soon, according to Shannon Drayer of ESPN 710 in Seattle. The Pirates released Vazquez earlier in the month, but as MLBTR's Luke Adams pointed out before the release, Vazquez does have some value for teams looking for infield depth. Other clubs haven't been linked to Vazquez since his release, but Drayer says a deal with the Mariners "could happen shortly."

Vazquez, 33, hit .230/.335/.279 in 239 plate appearances for the Pirates last year, but his career .254/.328/.350 line suggests he could hit better than that. Vazquez, who will only cost the major league minimum to sign, played shortstop, second and third last year and has experience at all four infield positions. The Mariners announced today that Jack Hannahan will begin a rehab assignment at Triple A Tacoma, so they do have depth on the way.

Pirates Release Ramon Vazquez

The Pirates unconditionally released infielder Ramon Vazquez, according to a team press release.  Vazquez had been designated for assignment four days ago.  The Pirates will assume Vazquez's $2MM salary, less the league minimum if another team signs him.

MLBTR's Luke Adams looked at Vazquez's situation earlier this week, noting that he should have value to a few clubs at the league minimum salary.  The 33-year-old hit .230/.335/.279 last year in 239 plate appearances, playing second base, shortstop, and third base and dealing with a knee injury.

GM Neal Huntington's plan when signing Vazquez in December of '08 may have been to find a credible back-up middle infielder in case the team traded Freddy Sanchez and/or Jack Wilson.  But you have to question his $4MM commitment to Vazquez, a journeyman platoon player who still didn't hit lefties in his career year '08 season.

Ramon Vazquez’s Future

Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reported yesterday that the Pirates have designated Ramon Vazquez for assignment. Though the move allows the team ten days to attempt to trade Vazquez, it is more likely that the infielder will be released. In that case, a new club could acquire Vazquez at a reduced cost, with the Pirates on the hook for the remainder of the $2MM he is owed in 2010.

Trade rumors surrounded Vazquez for most of the winter, with the Orioles and Rangers mentioned as possible suitors. Both teams have added utility infielders of their own in recent weeks, meaning any interest they had in Vazquez has probably diminished. However, there are still clubs that could be in the market for a cheap utility man. ESPN.com's Rumor Central points out that the Mets or Mariners might have a place for Vazquez, if or when the Pirates release him.

Vazquez signed his current two-year, $4MM deal following a 2008 campaign in which he hit .290/.365/.430 in 347 plate appearances with the Rangers. While his career numbers (.254/.328/.350) suggest lesser offensive production, Vazquez still has some value coming off the bench and playing second base, shortstop, or third base. Freed of his $2MM price tag, Vazquez should be able to catch on with another club looking to add versatility to their bench.

Pirates Designate Ramon Vazquez For Assignment

Dejan Kovacevic of The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports that the Pirates have designated utility infielder Ramon Vazquez for assignment. The team has ten days to trade, release, or waive him, though Kovacevic says a release seems like a certainty. We chronicled the team's roster crunch earlier this morning.

The 33-year-old Vazquez hit just .230/.335/.279 in 239 plate appearances last year, playing all over the infield. The Pirates are still on the hook for the $2MM they promised him in 2010 as part of the two year, $4MM deal they gave him last season.

Kovacevic also mentions that Rule 5 Draft pick John Raynor and the out of options Hayden Penn have made the team's Opening Day roster, so we won't be seeing them on waivers anytime soon.

The Pirates’ Roster Crunch

We've seen a bevy of players designated for assignment and/or released in the past few days as teams were finalizing their Opening Day rosters. The deadline for clubs to submit their 25-man roster is 2pm CT today, and perhaps no one has more decisions to make than the Pirates, as Karen Price of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review explains.

At the moment, Pittsburgh's 40-man roster is full, but they have to find room for relievers Jack Taschner and D.J. Carrasco, who've made the team. One spot can be freed up by placing reliever Jose Ascanio on the 60-day disabled list as he recovers from shoulder surgery. Price mentions that the other 40-man spot is likely to come at the cost of Hayden Penn, Ramon Vazquez, John Raynor, or Steve Pearce.

The Pirates claimed Penn off waivers just last week, but that doesn't mean they aren't willing to designate him for assignment today. He's out of options, so he'd have to clear waivers to be sent to the minors anyway. As a Rule 5 Draft selection, the Pirates have to keep Raynor on their 25-man roster all season or offer him back to the Marlins. Pearce has a leg up on the other guys because he has a minor league option remaining.

Vazquez will earn $2MM this season, but was told that he wasn't on the team a few weeks ago, making him a candidate to be either traded or released. Cutting him loose and eating his salary isn't the most desirable move, but it's probably best for the team. After a breakout season with the Rangers in 2008, Vazquez hit just .230/.335/.279 in 239 plate appearances last year, but at least he's capable of playing all over the infield. With Bobby Crosby and Ronny Cedeno on board, that last point may be moot.

Joel Hanrahan is likely to start the year on the 15-day DL because of an elbow issue, so the team could carry Penn to start the season. Optioning Pearce and releasing Vazquez would give the team the 25-man and 40-man roster spots for Taschner/Carrasco, then they'd just have to figure out what to do with Raynor, who's in a unique spot. We'll find out their decision by this afternoon, one way or the other.

Rangers Interested In Trading For Utility Infielder

In spite of the deal with Oakland that brought Gregorio Petit to Texas, MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan reports that Petit will probably end up in Triple-A rather than fill the Rangers' need for a utility infielder on their big league roster.  Texas has been looking to fill their backup infield void for weeks, and a few new options have appeared on the Rangers' radar for a possible deal.

Augie Ojeda (who we know the D'Backs are shopping) is one option that the Rangers have an interest in, Sullivan says.  Sullivan proposes that right-hander Luis Mendoza might be a good fit to be dealt for Ojeda since Arizona wants pitching and Mendoza is out of optionsWillie Bloomquist and Kevin Frandsen are also possible options, Sullivan reports.  Frandsen is another player known to be on the trade market, and that same MLBTR piece also cites the Giants as a team that could be interested in a player of Ojeda's type.

Former Ranger Ramon Vazquez has been mentioned in trade talks this winter and we know the Pirates want to move him.  But Sullivan says Texas doesn't want to acquire Vazquez at the cost of Mendoza, and you have to figure that the Rangers might just pick Vazquez up if Pittsburgh is forced to release him.

Odds & Ends: Twins, Fien, Podsednik

Links for Tuesday…

Pirates Notes: Vazquez, Tabata, Alvarez

Let's check out some Pirates-related tidbits courtesy of MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch..

  • With Ramon Vazquez on the trading block, Langosch stresses that any talk of him being Texas-bound is merely conjecture at this point.  Furthermore, if they do move him, they are unlikely to get much back and may have to eat some of his $2MM salary.  However, Pittsburgh might be willing to move the 33-year-old for next to nothing.
  • One reader asks if the Pirates are considering locking up their young prospects, like Milwaukee did with Ryan Braun or like Tampa Bay did with Evan Longoria.  Langosch says that the Pirates will wait until players like Jose Tabata, Brad Lincoln, and Pedro Alvarez establish themselves in the majors to open up discussions.
  • Speaking of Alvarez, Langosch expects the Pirates to hold off on bringing him up to the big leagues.  Pittsburgh delayed Andrew McCutchen's promotion last season in order to give him more seasoning in the minors and, in all likelihood, to extend his time under team control.

Ramon Vazquez Could Be Traded Or Released

Infielder Ramon Vazquez is fighting to make the Pirates, reports Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  Vazquez said he's been told he's not on the team right now, despite being guaranteed $2MM in 2010.  GM Neal Huntington admitted he has to consider a trade of some sort, having six players for four bench spots.

A release is the least-desirable approach for the Pirates, since they'd still owe Vazquez's $2MM salary (less $400K if he joins another big league club).  A trade makes more sense, with Kovacevic naming the Rangers and Orioles as possible matches.  Vazquez, 33, hit .230/.335/.279 in 239 plate appearances last year while playing second base, shortstop, and third base.  His poor performance may have been related to a knee injury.

Huntington's plan when signing Vazquez in December of '08 may have been to find a credible back-up middle infielder in case the team traded Freddy Sanchez and/or Jack Wilson.  But you have to question his $4MM commitment to Vazquez, a journeyman platoon player who still didn't hit lefties in his career year '08 season.