Welcome Back, Part II: Javier Vazquez

The Yankees have reacquired Javier Vazquez (and Boone Logan) this morning from the Braves in exchange for Melky Cabrera and Mike Dunn (and perhaps another prospect).

javier-vazquezI have no idea yet about the other prospect, but my initial reaction is that this is a great deal for the Yankees.  The Yankees should never have traded Javy for Randy Johnson originally; they overreacted to a bad couple month stretch where Vazquez lost his mechanics.  Since one of those months was October – and the Yankees at the time overvalued October performance (which clearly they don’t anymore – see: Matsui, Hideki) – Vazquez was exiled away.

All Vazquez has done since his exile however is become one of the most consistent starters in baseball – pretty much exactly what the Yankees thought he would do when they traded Nick Johnson and company for him originally.  He’s thrown over 200 innings every single year (as Tyler Kepner points out, only he and Johan Santana have 1000 innings and 1000 strikeouts since 2004).

Last year was probably his best year, posting a 143 ERA+ and 9.8 K/9. Vazquez fits in with Cashman’s recent push to acquire strikeout pitchers to help counteract the Yankees mediocre defense.  This strategy worked last year, and Vazquez should slot in nicely behind CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett (though based on stats, you could argue that Javy really should be the #2 starter).

Melky Cabrera is still young and talented and should push the defensively inferior Nate McClouth out of centerfield in Atlanta, but his value isn’t maximized unless he’s playing centerfield, which he wouldn’t in NY with the arrival of Curtis Granderson.

The Yankees will likely need to find a corner outfielder now, but as I’ve said many times, that’s one of the easiest positions in baseball to fill.  Perhaps if Johnny Damon takes a big paycut, he’s still a possibility.  With the Yankees taking on Vazquez’s contract though, I would be shocked to see them in the market for Jason Bay or Matt Holliday.  Brian Cashman clearly wants payroll flexibility and being tied to one of those sluggers on a long-term deal would be a mistake.

Vazquez has one year and $11.5 million remaining on his contract.  Even if the Yanks do not sign him to an extension, they would be in line to get a few draft picks for him, and would free up even more money for the big free agent group next offseason.

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2 Responses to Welcome Back, Part II: Javier Vazquez

  1. I don't like that they're giving up Arodys Vizcaino in this deal, but he is 19 and far from a sure thing. I'm still unsure how I feel about this deal overall.

  2. That other prospect was Arodys Vizcaino, number 3 on Baseball America’s Top 1 yankee prospects. Which makes the pricetag considerably higher. Not saying I don’t like the trade, but it does 2 things that cause a little worry. it makes the rotation older than I would like, nudging out a spot for Chamberlain and Hughes, and making Burnett, Vasquez and Petitte , 3/5 of the rotation on the wrong side of 32. And it makes Vasquez pitch in the American league, which I’m not so sure he can do that well.