Thursday, December 2, 2010
Javier Vazquez finalizes one-year deal
MIAMI -- Pitcher Javier Vazquez says he turned down a couple multiyear offers to sign a one-year deal with the Florida Marlins.
He liked the fit with Florida that much.
"I'm at a point in my career where I'm not looking for too many more years," the 34-year-old Vazquez said with a chuckle Thursday after he and the Marlins finalized a $7 million deal for 2011. "I identified a few teams I wanted to play for. Thankfully the Marlins were first on that list, and we made it happen."
Vazquez said there were many reasons he wanted to play in Florida. It's close to his native Puerto Rico, and he expects the Marlins to contend next season. He's familiar with many people in the organization, including owner Jeffrey Loria, and has known manager Edwin Rodriguez since the mid-1990s.
The Marlins are counting on Vazquez to fill out an otherwise-young rotation that includes Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, Anibal Sanchez and Chris Volstad.
"When the opportunity arose to sign such a professional, experienced veteran, it made 100 percent sense to us," general manager Mike Hill said. "He's a true professional on and off the field -- how he handles himself, how he prepares himself. Those things are important to us. We were confident in his ability to get people out and help this team win."
Right-hander Burke Badenhop also agreed to a one-year deal with the Marlins. He went 2-5 with a 3.99 ERA in 67 2/3 innings with Florida this year.
Vazquez went 10-10 this year with a 5.32 ERA for the New York Yankees. The right-hander was dropped from the rotation during the second half of the season and didn't appear in the playoffs.
But Vazquez's durability made him appealing to the Marlins. While compiling a record of 152-149, he has averaged 203 innings a year since his rookie season with Montreal in 1998.
And he provides veteran leadership on a rotation dominated by 20-somethings.
"I've seen all those guys -- Josh and Ricky and Sanchez and Volstad -- and they all pitch great last year," Vazquez said. "They're growing. They're young guys with a lot of ability. I just want to come in and be a part of that. Hopefully all five of us can stay healthy and do good things.
"I'm there to help the young guys, but I've never stopped learning, either. I'm sure I can learn from them, too," he said.
Vazquez said his arm feels great, and he's confident he can bounce back from last year's struggles. If things go well next season, he would like to sign another contract with the Marlins and help them open their new ballpark in 2012.
"It's actually something I've thought about," he said. "I have to do my job and do well for them to want me to stay a Marlin. It would be great for me to have a good year and keep pitching for the Marlins in the new stadium."