Rumors are just rumors, yes. But you can accurately judge the Nationals' interest in Vazquez through this tweet from Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports:
Source: #Nationals GM Mike Rizzo is in Puerto Rico tonight watching Javier Vazquez pitch.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 10, 2013
The Nationals are definitely not the only team involved with Vazquez, as his representatives told Jim Bowden of ESPN that half of the teams in the league have expressed interest. From them, Vazquez will only choose a contender to pitch for next season.
Washington will undoubtedly be a contender—possibly even the No. 1 contender—and Vazquez would be wise to choose the Nationals if they extend him an offer.
If I were general manager Mike Rizzo and Vazquez looked ready to pitch, I would jump at the chance to sign him.
He may not have pitched last season, but he performed very well for the Florida Marlins in 2011. In 32 starts (the 11th time in 12 seasons, he's reached 30 starts), Vazquez compiled a 3.69 ERA and a 13-11 record.
His career record of 165-160 is mediocre, as is his career 4.22 ERA. Even so, he's capable of being an impact performer, and the Nationals should not risk losing him to another contender.
At worst, Vazquez is the sixth member of a five-man rotation. He would be a spot starter and long man out of the bullpen to begin the season—though the Nationals may not need a long man very often with their ridiculous rotation.
In that role, there would be little pressure on Vazquez to perform. He'd be able to transition nicely to a role in the bullpen and be able to focus on throwing his best stuff over a few innings once or twice a week.
Then, when he had his confidence up and command of all the pitches in his arsenal, manager Davey Johnson would be able to make an accurate assessment of the back end of his rotation.
Ross Detwiler pitched well for the team last season (10-8, 3.40 ERA), but Johnson shouldn't be certain about what he'll receive from Detwiler next season. If he gets off to a rocky start, Johnson could consider swapping the roles of him and Vazquez.
Signing Vazquez would be a small risk considering his year off, but the reward could potentially be great. He provides every potential suitor with versatility, but especially a team like the Nationals.
Washington will be a playoff team regardless of whether or not Vazquez signs, but his addition would make an already deep pitching staff that much deeper.
Rizzo, go get him.