Posted on September 17, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
Pittsburgh Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez is in deep trouble with the law, putting his baseball career in jeopardy. Vazquez was arrested Tuesday on third-degree felony charges of solicitation of a child and providing obscene material to minors. He was taken into custody at Allegheny County Jail in Pennsylvania on behalf of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), who filed the charges. Vazquez will soon be extradited to Lee County, Florida, where the arrest warrant was filed.
The 28-year-old Vazquez is accused of having a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old girl from Lee County. According to an FDLE investigation that began in August, Vazquez has continued to have a relationship with the girl, who is now 15. He allegedly sent her an explicit video in July. The girl’s mother reportedly found the video, as well as other photographs and text messages from Vazquez before notifying the authorities and informing Vazquez that her daughter is a minor.
“Today we were made aware of an active law enforcement investigation involving Felipe Vázquez and his subsequent arrest,” Pirates president Frank Coonelly said in a statement. “We take this matter, and these charges in particular, extremely seriously. We have informed the Commissioner’s Office of the investigation and arrest. The Commissioner’s Office will immediately place Felipe Vázquez on Administrative Leave (and, as a result, Restricted List) pursuant to the Joint MLB/MLBPA Policy.
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“We need to be respectful to all involved and the ongoing legal proceeding. As a result, the organization, our staff and players cannot comment any further at this time.”
MLB has placed Vazquez on administrative leave the league’s joint domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse policy. That designation lasts for seven days. However, it can be extended if both MLB and the Players Association agree that is the appropriate measure. Considering the seriousness of the charges, that is likely to be the case. MLB could launch an investigation into Vazquez and levy punishment outside of the legal system. However, it appears the league will wait for the police to pursue the situation further before launching its own investigation.
Vazquez had been having arguably the best season of his career. In 56 appearances, he’s 5-1 with a 1.56 ERA and 28 saves in 31 opportunities. He was involved in trade rumors during the summer, as he’s one of the top closers in the game. But the Pirates decided to hold onto him with no team willing to meet their high demands. He’s under contract for two more seasons and has team options for 2022 and 2023.
Of course, his arrest could open the door for the Pirates to void his contract. His legal situation could also make it impossible for Vazquez to continue his big league career. If the matter goes to trial and Vazquez is convicted, he could be facing jail time and possible deportation, as he’s a Venezuelan citizen. Even if cleared, he would be subject to punishment from MLB.
It’s not a stretch to say that Vazquez may have thrown his last pitch in the majors. While it’s difficult to predict how things will play out within the legal system, these are felony charges levied against Vazquez. On the field, the Pirates have lost one of their most impactful players, possibly for good. However, the impact Vazquez’s arrest could have on the Pirates pales in comparison to how serious the crimes are that Vazquez is accused of committing.