As first reported by CBS SportsLine.com, the World Series champion Chicago White Sox agreed to acquire starting pitcher Javier Vazquez from Arizona for pitcher Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez, Luis Vizcaino and minor-league outfielder Chris Young on Wednesday.
The Diamondbacks had been working since October to satisfy Vazquez's trade demand. In the White Sox, found a partner who can supply them with a starting pitcher to replace Vazquez in the rotation as well as a candidate to add to the mix as they search for a center fielder.
Meanwhile, the trade, which is subject to the players passing physicals and commissioner Bud Selig's approval, is just the latest in an array of aggressive moves this winter by White Sox general manager Kenny Williams, who appears intent not to rest on his World Series laurels.
The White Sox have traded for former Cleveland slugger Jim Thome, re-signed first baseman Paul Konerko and acquired pinch-hitter Rob Mackowiak from Pittsburgh.
In swapping Hernandez -- and others -- for Vazquez, Williams is tinkering with a rotation that was as dominant during the postseason as any since the Dodgers of Sandy Koufax, Johnny Podres and Don Drysdale in the early 1960s.
|Javier Vazquez is primed to join a Sox rotation that was the talk of the postseason. (Getty Images)|
Vazquez joins Mark Buehrle, Jon Garland, Freddy Garcia and Jose Contreras in an amped up White Sox rotation that, if Vazquez returns to form, could be even better in 2006 than it was in 2005. And though Garland and Contreras each is a potential free agent following the '06 season, super prospect Brandon McCarthy is waiting in the wings.
The White Sox apparently figure there is a greater upside to Vazquez, who went 11-15 with a 4.42 ERA in 33 starts for the Diamondbacks last summer, than there is to Hernandez.
If Vazquez, 29, can pitch as he did in Montreal from 2000-03, it will be a no-brainer for the White Sox. But if he is the Vazquez of the past two seasons -- he went 14-10 with an inflated 4.91 ERA with the Yankees in '04 before falling on such hard times in the desert last summer that some scouts believed he was hurt -- then White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper will have a project on his hands.
Vazquez had the right to demand a trade because he was dealt by the Yankees -- in the Randy Johnson deal -- while in the middle of a multiyear contract.
Hernandez was 9-9 with a 5.12 ERA in 24 games (22 starts) for the White Sox last season. He slowed noticeably in the second half, however. He was 7-2 with a 4.88 ERA before the All-Star break, but just 2-7 with a 5.35 ERA afterward. He was bothered by shoulder problems at times during the summer, which appeared to contribute to his running out of fuel by season's end.
Young, 21, is the key to the trade for Arizona. Rated as fourth-best on Baseball America's list of the Double-A Southern League's top 10 prospects, Young batted .277 with 26 homers, 77 RBI and 32 steals for Birmingham last summer.
Among the Diamondbacks' problems in '05 was that they had too many corner outfielders (Shawn Green, Luis Gonzalez, Chad Tracy) and corner infielders (Tracy, Troy Glaus, Tony Clark), but no legitimate center fielder. By season's end, they were using Green there.
The White Sox will inherit Vazquez's $11.5 million salary in '06 and $12.7 million in '07. Arizona received money from the Yankees upon acquiring him that would offset about $3 million of that each season; some of that money will be forwarded to the White Sox to offset the remainder of Vazquez's contract. Hernandez is owed $4.5 million in '06.
Arizona's talks with the White Sox apparently satisfied the Diamondbacks more than their discussions with the New York Mets, who spent significant time in recent weeks targeting Vazquez in exchange for a package that would have centered around Kris Benson.