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.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that the Major League Baseball Players Association has submitted a proposal to the league concerning the 2020 season. The proposal includes a 114-game season with an end date on October 31, playoff expansion for two years, the right for players to opt out of the season, and a potential deferral of 2020 salaries if the postseason were to be canceled.
Passan clarifies that among the players who choose to opt out, only those that are considered “high risk” would still receive their salaries. The others would simply receive service time. The union also proposed that the players receive a non-refundable $100 million sum advance during what would essentially be Spring Training 2.
If the regular season were to begin in early July, as has often been mentioned as the target, that would give the league four months to cram in 114 games. There would have to be occasional double-headers, or the players would have to be okay with few off-days. Nothing has been mentioned about division realignment or a geographically-oriented schedule, but those could potentially ease some of the burden.
Last week, the owners made their proposal to the union, suggesting a “sliding scale” salary structure. The union did not like that suggestion. Players were very vocal about it, including on social media as Max Scherzer — one of eight players on the union’s executive subcommittee — made a public statement. The owners will soon respond to the union’s proposal. They almost certainly won’t be happy with many of the details, but the two sides can perhaps find a starting point and bridge the gap. As the calendar turns to June, time is running out for the two sides to hammer out an agreement on what a 2020 season will look like.