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Vazquez arrested on child pornography, solicitation charges


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Outside PNC Park, where a banner depicting Felipe Vazquez once hung. – DEJAN KOVACEVIC / DKPS

Felipe Vazquez, the Pirates' All-Star closer, was arrested Tuesday morning on charges of pornography and soliciting a child, per the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Vazquez, 28, faces charges of computer pornography — solicitation of a child and one count of providing obscene material to minors. Per WTAE, Vazquez also faces four additional charges:

Jeff Passan offered a little more on these new, additional charges:

"Just shock," Cole Tucker was telling me at his locker of his reaction to the news. " ... We’re just dumbfounded.”

Per a statement from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Vazquez allegedly had a "sexual relationship with a 13-year-old female victim who resides in Lee County, [Florida]. The victim, now 15 years of age, was continuing to have a relationship with Vazquez via text messaging and received a video in July from him in which he is shown performing a sex act. Additionally, Vazquez allegedly sent the victim text messages suggesting they would meet for sex after his baseball season was over."

Vazquez was taken to the Allegheny County Jail, where he faces extradition to Lee County. The case will be prosecuted by Florida's Office of the State Attorney, 20th Judicial Court.

Per reports, Vazquez has been denied bail and a hearing to determine his extradition will be held at the Allegheny County Courthouse on Sept. 25.

“Today we were made aware of an active law enforcement investigation involving Felipe Vázquez and his subsequent arrest," Frank Coonelly, the Pirates' president, 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. 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.”

While on the Restricted List, a player does not get paid. Vazquez has four years of control, beyond this one, remaining on his contract with the Pirates with a total value of $22.5 million. That includes guaranteed salaries of $5.25 million in 2020 and $7.25 million in 2021, followed by two club options worth $10 million each for 2022 and 2023. The first option has a $1 million buyout, the second a $500,000 buyout.

"We are in the process of reviewing both the Pennsylvania and Florida charging documents, as well as the underlying facts of the matter. At this time, any comment would be premature," Vazquez's legal team said in a statement provided to

Chris Archer held a brief media session to discuss the allegations.

"We don’t know anything for certain," Archer said. "These allegations are very, very serious. The term that was used earlier is ‘heinous.’ Again, they’re, right now as far as we know, they’re just allegations. There’s not a whole lot we can say.

"But I do have a 14-year-old sister, so it’s something that hits home. In the U.S., you’re innocent until proven guilty, so until due process is completely played out, we’re just ... we’re hoping that this stuff’s not true." 

Vazquez has been named an All-Star each of the past two seasons. In 2019, he has 28 saves in 31 attempts.

On Sept. 10 in San Francisco, Vazquez was involved in a clubhouse altercation with teammate Kyle Crick. Punches were thrown, and Vazquez required six stitches on his nose as a result. Crick injured his right index finger, requiring season-ending surgery.

While many were quick to hop into the comments section and on social media concluding that Vazquez's current charges must have played a part in this altercation, Crick emphatically denied that notion when speaking to our Dejan Kovacevic Tuesday at PNC Park.

Additionally, Vazquez's locker was completely cleaned out in the team's clubhouse — no nameplate, no number. Nothing. Ditto that image at the top of this article, depicting the empty space left after they removed Vazquez's banner from the outside of PNC Park.

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle remained mum as Coonelly's statement indicated before the game.

"Actually, due to the fact that it's an ongoing criminal investigation, we've been advised it's in our best interest to not have any comment right now," Hurdle said.

Hurdle did, however, talk about the need for leadership and for moving past the incident as the team prepares for its upcoming series.

"I think you continue to connect, you continue to look each other in [the] eye and say, 'We need to get better. We need to improve. We need to be pros,'" Hurdle said. " ... What we do next is important, as well. It's the most important thing now, because what's behind us is behind us. What happened this morning — we're in the afternoon now, and we still have to find ways to go out and play a baseball game tonight."

The Pirates briefly met as a team before tonight's game against the Mariners at PNC Park to discuss how they would regroup, refocus and continue to play baseball through the rest of 2019 and beyond. While no details were revealed, Tucker offered me the following:

"We got a job to do, and (we have to) come out and perform and play, so 7 o’clock, there’s going to be a pitcher on the mound and there’s going to be people trying to catch and field and throw the ball, so it’s business as usual when the game starts and the lights go on," he said. "But it’s definitely an atypical day — that’s for sure.” 

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