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Pirates' Vazquez jailed on child solicitation charge

UniqueThis 3 Sep 17
12:37 PM ET

Pirates pitcher Felipe Vazquez was arrested in Pittsburgh on felony charges of pornography and soliciting a child, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement announced Tuesday.

The FDLE issued a statement saying it began its investigation into Vazquez in August after obtaining information that the pitcher reportedly had a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old girl in Lee County, Florida. The girl, now 15, allegedly was continuing to have a relationship with Vazquez via text messaging and received a video from him in July in which he is shown performing a sex act, according to the police statement.

In the police affidavit, it says girl's mother found texts, photographs and the video sent by Vazquez to her daughter. On July 23, the mother "sent a text message, to include a screenshot of the photographs" to Vazquez to inform him that her daughter was a minor.

Vazquez has been put on administrative leave by Major League Baseball, though sources told ESPN that the league is not launching an immediate investigation because it plans to use the police's findings in pursuing potential discipline for Vazquez.

"Today we were made aware of an active law enforcement investigation involving Felipe Vazquez 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 Vazquez on Administrative Leave (and, as a result, Restricted List) pursuant to the Joint MLB/MLBPA Policy. 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."

The arrest -- on third-degree felony charges of computer pornography/solicitation of a child and providing obscene material to minors -- was made by the FDLE with assistance from the Pennsylvania State Police. Several electronic devices were seized by police and will be examined as part of the investigation with more charges possible for Vazquez.

The warrant was issued in Lee County, Florida. Vazquez, who is in the Allegheny County Jail in Pittsburgh, faces extradition to Lee County.

His arraignment was scheduled for later Tuesday.

The administrative leave is pursuant to MLB's joint domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy. A player can remain on leave up to seven days, but it can be extended if MLB and the MLB Players Association agree to it.

Vazquez, the Pirates' closer, is 5-1 with 28 saves, 90 strikeouts and a 1.65 ERA this season. He is a two-time All-Star selection and is signed with the Pirates through at least 2021.

Vazquez will be paid while on administrative leave, but the Pirates could attempt to void his contract. However, past efforts by teams to nullify deals, even in cases of illegal behavior, have proved difficult. He is owed $5.25 million for the 2020 season and $7.25 million for 2021. The Pirates also hold $10 million options on the 2022 and '23 seasons -- the first with a $1 million buyout and the second a $500,000 buyout.

Vazquez was among the most sought-after players before the July 31 trade deadline, with multiple teams pursuing him. The Pirates held out for an enormous asking price, valuing Vazquez -- and especially the four years of team control -- as one of the best assets in baseball. Teams found the Pirates' demands exorbitant, and Vazquez remained with Pittsburgh.

ESPN's Jeff Passan and The Associated Press contributed to this report.