The Red Sox are searching for insurance policies for their starting rotation, and they could have interest in Javier Vazquez, who retired following the 2011 season but is currently prepping to pitch for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic. According to WEEI's Rob Bradford, Boston will send scouts to watch Vazquez pitch in the Puerto Rican Winter League on Friday.
The 36-year-old Vazquez could return to the majors after a season off. When he last pitched in 2011, the right-hander fired 192⅔ innings for the then-Florida Marlins, improving all of his rate stats over his disastrous 2010 campaign with the New York Yankees. During his return to the Bombers, Vazquez lost nearly 2.5 mph on his four-seam fastball and lost his effectiveness, posting a 5.53 FIP while allowing 8.9 H/9, 3.7 BB/9, and striking out just 6.9 batters per nine innings. With the Marlins, Vazquez saw his fastball bounce back near its normal 92-mph plateau, cut his walk rate by more than one, and saw an uptick in his whiffs.
Bradford reports that Vazquez's fastball is currently being clocked between 92-93 mph, which would represent his best velocity ratings since 2008, when he was a member of the White Sox. Vazquez has not committed to a major-league comeback, but if he chooses to do so, the fly-baller might want to find a friendly ballpark than Fenway.