The Dodgers, looking to bolster a bullpen that has had its share of slipups this season, are interested in acquiring Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez, Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports. There is no indication the Pirates would be amenable to trading Vazquez, however.
Factoring in the 27-year-old Vazquez’s age, track record and contract, he’s one of the most valuable relievers in the sport. The hard-throwing left-hander debuted with the Nationals in 2015 but truly burst on the scene in 2017, a year after the Pirates acquired him from the Nats in a deal for fellow reliever Mark Melancon.
Vazquez has been a dominant late-game workhorse since his first full season in Pittsburgh, having posted a 2.12 ERA/2.43 FIP with 11.51 K/9, 2.67 BB/9 and a 46.2 percent groundball rate in 178 1/3 innings. He has also saved 77 of 85 opportunities over the past two-plus seasons, including 19 of 20 in 2019. This may go down as the best season yet for Vazquez, who has pitched to a 1.91 ERA/2.36 FIP with 13.91 K/9 and 2.45 BB/9 across 33 frames.
Vazquez wouldn’t be the closer with the Dodgers; he’d instead team with game-ending righty Kenley Jansen to form a duo that would be one of the envies of the league. Owners of the majors’ best record (55-26), the Dodgers aren’t hard up for help. However, their bullpen has been more middle of the pack than excellent this season. Jansen and Pedro Baez have performed well (though the former has fallen off a bit since his halcyon days), but there’s room for improvement otherwise.
There is little question convincing the Pirates to part with Vazquez would mean offering an impossible-to-reject package of young talent. While the 36-41 Pirates probably aren’t on their way to the playoffs this season, the low-budget club has Vazquez potentially under wraps through 2023 on a sweetheart contract, so it’s not in any rush to move him. He’s on a $4MM salary this year, a $5.25MM salary in 2020 and a $7.25MM figure in 2021. After that, Vazquez has affordable club options worth $10MM apiece from 2022-23.