Javier Vazquez has repeatedly indicated that he plans to retire despite being a free agent coming off a very good season, but Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post reports that the Marlins may try to talk the 35-year-old right-hander into pitching at least one more season.
Capozzi writes that playing close to his home in Puerto Rico and playing for a contender are the two factors that could change Vazquez’s mind about calling it quits, and of course he also speculates that the Marlins would have to offer Vazquez a raise on his $7 million salary.
For now the Marlins have exclusive negotiating rights with Vazquez, but that ends Thursday. He had a terrible 2010 season for the Yankees, but surrounded that with an excellent 2009 for the Braves and a strong 2011 for the Marlins, tossing 193 innings with a 3.69 ERA and 162/50 K/BB ratio. Turning down another $10 million might be tough, but then again Vazquez has already earned $100 million during his 14-season career.
The Atlanta Braves selected high school pitcher Carter Stewart with the number eight overall pick in the 2018 draft. Then, after the draft, they gave Stewart a below-slot signing bonus offer, claiming that they found problems with his wrist in his post-draft physical. Stewart ended up rejecting the offer and the MLBPA filed a grievance against the Braves on Stewart’s behalf.
The grievance sought to make Stewart a free agent it was considered a long shot at the time of its filing and, in fact, the grievance was rejected. Stewart, unable to attain free agency, enrolled at Eastern Florida State College, a two-year school that would’ve made him eligible for the 2019 draft.
Now, Ken Rosenthal reports, Stewart has pulled a crazy Ivan and is heading to Japan, having signed with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League. The terms of the deal aren’t known, but Rosenthal says Stewart was looking for a $7 million guarantee.
It’s a fascinating turn of events for Stewart who, this time last year, was considered perhaps the best amateur pitcher in baseball. Being lowballed and having his health questioned by the Braves may have been a wakeup call to Stewart, however, about his chances of finding a quick path the bigs in the U.S. If the shine did come off of his prospect status in the past year here, there’s every reason to believe that $7 million and a path to the bigs in Japan is a much better deal than several million less and a path to the bigs in America.
He’ll be worth watching over the next few years, that’s for sure. Both for his own sake and to see if, in this era of Major League Baseball’s capping of amateur bonuses and teams’ habit of manipulating service time, going overseas becomes more attractive to American high schoolers and college players.