PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pittsburgh Pirates All-Star closer Felipe Vázquez was arrested Tuesday on felony charges of pornography and soliciting a child and was placed on administrative leave by Major League Baseball.
Vázquez 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. His arraignment was scheduled for later Tuesday.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said it began investigating the 28-year-old Vázquez in August after learning of an alleged sexual relationship between Vázquez and a teenage girl living in Lee County, Florida. Vázquez, who lives in Saint Cloud, Florida, and the victim began the relationship when the girl was 13, authorities said.
The girl, now 15, allegedly received a text message from Vázquez in July in which he was performing a sex act. Vázquez also texted the girl to ask if she wanted to meet for a sexual encounter following the end of the baseball season, according to police.
Authorities arrested Vázquez and took him to the Allegheny County jail after executing a search warrant Tuesday morning at his Pittsburgh apartment. Police said they seized electronic devices that will be used in the investigation. Vázquez will be extradited to Florida.
Vázquez, a two-time All-Star pitcher from Venezuela, is 5-1 with a 1.65 ERA and 28 saves for the Pirates this season. Pittsburgh is scheduled to play at home against Seattle on Tuesday night.
“We take this matter, and these charges in particular, extremely seriously,” Pirates president Frank Coonelly said in a statement.
The MLB commissioner’s office placed Vázquez on administrative leave as part of its policy regarding domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse.
Administrative leave is not considered discipline. Vázquez goes on the restricted list and continues to receive his salary but is ineligible to play.
The arrest is the latest setback in a turbulent season for the franchise. Vázquez and reliever Kyle Crick were both suspended a game last week after getting into a physical altercation in San Francisco. Crick injured the index finger of his right (pitching) hand during the altercation and underwent season-ending surgery. Crick maintained Vázquez threw the first punch, with general manager Neal Huntington condemning both players for their actions.
Vazquez signed a four-year, $22-million contract with Pittsburgh before the 2018 season, with the team holding club options for 2022 and 2023.