For the second time this decade the Yankees made a deal with an NL East team for the services of Javier Vasquez. Unlike that first deal back in December of 2003, Vazquez comes to New York with lowered expectations. He will no longer be looked upon as the savior of a dismantled rotation, this time he will come in as the third option behind CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett with a solid veteran in Andy Pettitte behind him.
Yankee fans may only remember Johnny Damon launching a grand slam off of Vazquez when he attempted to relieve the waste of space known as Kevin Brown back in '04, but the righty has been better than solid since he left New York. Over the last three seasons Vazquez has cracked up 200 strikeouts and has an ERA of 3.74. He still has occasional issues with his command, but for what he has to be for the Yankees it is a great pick up.
It is also worth noting that even though Vazquez is scheduled to make $11.5 million this year that price is off-set by the unloading of Melky Cabrera in the deal. Cabrera probably will pull in around $3 million in arbitration making and Melky's likely replacement, Jamie Hoffman, will still be making league minimum.
I like the pick up for the Yankees a lot. They have trying for years to get something valuable for Melky Cabrera and it looks like Cashman finally found a deal he liked. While Vazquez wont approach a 2.87 ERA in the AL East, I'm sure he will be a solid option at the back end of the rotation. I always liked Vazquez and while it seemed impossible for him to stay in the Bronx after '04, giving up on such a young talented arm for an aging Randy Johnson was, in hindsight, a mistake. When Sports Illustrated's 2005 baseball preview came out I was impressed by how Vazquez responded to his terrible second half in 2004. Now Vazquez finally has the chance to show short-sighted New Yorkers the kind of pitcher he really is.
The only problem with his aquisition is that we will never hear the end of Hughes and/or Joba to the bullpen... ever.