The Nationals have been linked to nearly every free agent starting pitcher this offseason. They’re tuned into the Cliff Lee negotiations, they’ve expressed interest in Jorge De La Rosa. And now it appears they have a beat on available right-hander Javier Vazquez.
According to Bill Ladson of MLB.com, the Nats are expected to make a contract offer to Vazquez by next week.
The 34-year-old righty told reporters in late October that he is open to pitching in the nation’s capital because it’s not too far from his Puerto Rico home, and he’s not exactly going to be sifting through a pile offers after the 5.32 ERA and 1.40 WHIP that he posted over 31 appearances this year for the Yankees. Vazquez will be lucky to land a two-year deal. And he’ll be extremely lucky if that deal approaches $15 million.
The market is thin on quality starting pitching this winter, but Vazquez showed a complete lack of effectiveness in New York and isn’t getting any younger.
ESPN’s Keith Law has released his annual top-100 prospects list. According to Law, Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna is the number one prospect in baseball.
After blazing through High-A and Double-A ball last season, Acuna was the youngest player in Triple-A in 2017. He was 19 years-old all season long and put up a fantastic line of .335/.384/.534 in 486 plate appearances at Double and Triple-A. He then went on to star in the Arizona Fall League, leading that circuit in homers. Law, who is not one to throw hyperbolic comps around, says, “if Acuna stays in center and maxes out his power, he’s going to be among the best players in baseball, with a Mike Trout-ish profile.”
Acuna, who is 20 now, is likely play the bulk of the season in Atlanta, even if he’s kept down at Triple-A for the first couple of weeks of the season to manipulate his service time, er, I mean to allow him to develop his skills more fully. Or something. Given the presence of reigning Gold Glove center fielder Ender Inciarte, Acuna is not likely to man center for the Braves this year, but Law says he’d be a plus right field defender, which could make the Braves outfield Death to Flying Things in 2018. At least when Nick Markakis is not playing.
Number two on the list: Blue Jays third base prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. As law notes, the name may be familiar but he’s not very much like his old man. Mostly because young Vlad can take a walk. Which is better, even if it’s nowhere near as fun as swinging at balls that bounce in the dirt first.
For the other 98, you’ll have to click through.