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Javier Vazquez, Florida Marlins: One Dave Duncan Project Down

It looks like one of my favorite hypothetical Dave Duncan projects is off the Hot Stove League board—the Florida Marlins have signed starter Javier Vazquez to a one year deal worth $7 million. Vazquez is best-known to St. Louis Cardinals fans for Keith Law's Cy Young vote in 2009, but whatever your opinion of Law Vazquez's 2009 was truly outstanding; he struck out 238 batters against just 44 walks in 219 innings, a career year at 33 for the former Montreal Expos ace. 

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At 34, with the New York Yankees—things could have been better. Vazquez's peripherals all collapsed, and his ERA and fastball velocity went with it. It was the second year in his career that Vazquez had gone to New York following a brilliant season and been left for dead; back in 2004 he had a very similar season before reemerging with the Braves five years later.

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There's no way of knowing what 2011 will bring for Vazquez, but at just $7 million for a pitcher who's thrown 200 innings nine seasons out of his last 11 it could be one of the better free agent deals of this offseason. For the Florida Marlins, who deal in one-year contention windows, it's just about perfect; they could get an ace and run for the playoffs, or they could get a bulk starter and have their usual season. No long-term responsibility. But that would have been nice for the Cardinals, too.