After taking a year off from the MLB, Javier Vazquez is interested in a return, and according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, the Boston Red Sox will be scouting Vazquez as he pitches in the Puerto Rican Winter League.
So far this winter, the Red Sox have made a number of improvements, including signing Ryan Dempster to join their starting rotation. Even after these transactions, the Red Sox need a few more pieces if they are going to be a playoff team.
The team needs to add at least one more starter to the back end of their rotation that they know they can trust. It is possible that the Red Sox see Vazquez as that type of pitcher.
During his last season in the major leagues, Vazquez put up some of the best numbers of his career. In 32 starts for the (then) Florida Marlins in 2011, Vazquez posted a 13-11 record to go along with a 3.69 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP.
However, there are certainly a number of questions surrounding what level of performance Vazquez could have if the Red Sox sign him to a big-league deal.
Even if Vazquez is able to come back, he will have to pitch well in the American League East, something that he has never done well before. While Vazquez has a 4.22 ERA during his career, he has a 4.65 ERA in the American League and a 5.09 ERA during his two stints with the New York Yankees.
The division is also much stronger now than when Vazquez last pitched in it. When Vazquez first appeared on the Yankees' roster in 2004, the Toronto Blue Jays, Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles combined to win 215 games.
Vazquez pitched for the Yankees once again in 2010, and while the competition in the division was better than it was in 2004, it does not stack up to where it is right now.
Baltimore is coming off of a postseason appearance, Toronto is looking like one of the favorites in the American League, Tampa Bay is poised to contend again and the Yankees are still the Yankees. There will be no easy matchups within the division.
Who should the Red Sox use as their fifth starter?
Given the other options on the free-agent market, Vazquez does not seem like the ideal fit for the Red Sox. The team could go after Shaun Marcum or Joe Saunders, both of whom have had more success in the American League than Vazquez.
While Vazquez might be one the cheapest options on the market, the Red Sox would not be smart to sign him. The hit to their payroll will not be something that hurts the Red Sox, but the losses that they pick up during poor starts from Vazquez could be enough to keep them out of the playoffs.