We first heard whispers of this in early November, but ESPN Deportes is reporting that, yes, Javier Vazquez is considering a comeback. The report — roughly translated, since we have misplaced our babelfish — says that Vazquez is interested in pitching for a contender this season, but doesn’t plan on making any decisions until after the World Baseball Classic.
Given the kind of scratch pitchers are making these days, and given that Vazuqez left the game following the 2011 season in fine form (13-11, 3.69 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 162/50 K/BB ratio in 192.2 innings), you have to figure that he would draw considerable interest should he decide to give it a whirl.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.
Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.
As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.