Pittsburgh Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez, whom the Dodgers attempted to acquire ahead of the July 31 trade deadline, was arrested Tuesday on felony charges including statutory sexual assault and soliciting a child, and was placed on administrative leave by Major League Baseball.
Vazquez was taken into custody by Pennsylvania State Police on one count of “computer pornography/solicitation of a child” and one count of “providing obscene material to minors,” both felonies, stemming from an investigation in Florida. He was later charged in Westmoreland (Pa.) County on felony counts of statutory sexual assault, unlawful contact with a minor and corruption of minors and a misdemeanor count of indecent assault of a person under 16 years old.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement announced it had begun investigating the 28-year-old Vazquez’s relationship with a 15-year-old girl in August. The agency had been informed Vazquez started a sexual relationship with her when she was 13. The girl allegedly received a sext message from Vazquez in July in which he was performing a sex act. Vazquez also texted the girl to ask if she wanted to meet for a sexual encounter after the season ended, according to police.
“We are in the process of reviewing both the Pennsylvania and Florida charging documents, as well as the underlying facts of the matter,” Vazquez’s lawyers, Jay Reisinger and Michael Comber, said in a statement. “At this time, any comment would be premature.”
Vazquez was arraigned via video from the Allegheny County jail and was denied bond, with the judge saying she believed Vazquez was a flight risk.
According to the affidavit, Vazquez’s face is not visible in the images sent to the victim, but authorities identified him by matching tattoos in the picture against tattoos of Vazquez they discovered on the internet. Authorities matched the evidence to Vazquez’s phone number.
Two months ago, Vazquez was named an All-Star for the second straight season as his name circulated in the rumor mill ahead of the trade deadline. The Dodgers sought elite relief help and were one of the clubs interested in the hard-throwing left-hander.
Customary background checks conducted to evaluate trade targets produced concerns about Vazquez, but nothing resembling the charge levied Tuesday, according to people with knowledge of the situation. Ultimately, the Dodgers refused to meet the Pirates’ price, which started with top prospect Gavin Lux.
Vazquez recorded 28 saves and a 1.65 earned-run average in 60 innings across 56 appearances this season.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.