What’s going on with Javier Vazquez?

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Under normal circumstances, Javier Vazquez would do pretty well in this weak free agent market for starting pitchers. The 35-year-old right-hander was awful over the first two and a half months this past season, but finished with a 1.92 ERA and 115/19 K/BB ratio over 126 2/3 innings in his final 19 starts. Only Cliff Lee and Clayton Kershaw had a lower ERA over the same timespan.

Of course, these aren’t normal circumstances.

Vazquez indicated that he was leaning toward retirement at the end of the season. He hasn’t made an official announcement yet, so his plans for 2012 remain a mystery. Joe Frisaro of MLB.com hears that the Marlins aren’t expecting him back and are looking at alternatives for their starting rotation. Meanwhile, one MLB executive told Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com yesterday that he believes Vazquez will pitch in 2012.

If Vazquez decides to return, the options will probably be pretty limited. Not because the market will be thin, but because he prefers to pitch on the East Coast in order to make it easier to travel to his home in Puerto Rico.

The Red Sox designate Hanley Ramirez for assignment

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The Boston Red Sox activated Dustin Pedroia from the disabled list today. That’s a big deal. The move they made to make room for him on the roster was a big one too: they designated Hanley Ramirez for assignment. A designation for assignment, of course, means that the Sox have seven days to either trade or release Ramirez.

Ramirez, 34, is experiencing his worst season as a major leaguer thus far, hitting .254/.313/.395 (88 OPS+) in 195 plate appearances as he split time between first base and designated hitter. Given how well Mitch Moreland has hit at first and J.D. Martinez has hit at DH, there is simply no room for Ramirez in the lineup. At the moment the Red Sox have the second best offense in all of baseball despite Ramirez’s performance.

Ramirez, a 14-year big league veteran, won the 2006 Rookie of the Year Award and won the NL batting title in 2009. He has been a below average hitter in three of his last four seasons, however and, long removed from his days as a middle infielder, he has little defensive value these days. That said, his fame and the possibility that he could put together a decent run if used wisely will likely get him some looks from other clubs.