Scott Kazmir: Oakland A’s Swoop In; Take A Chance

It’s no secret Oakland is a smart franchise. Even without the resources, they somehow get a competitive team on the field, finding value in a wide variety of ways. That’s why it was no surprise they landed Scott Kazmir to a 2-year/22M contract. For them, this is a fairly pricey deal. They usually don’t commit such resources to reclamation projects such as Kazmir is (was). Yet, this time, it was a risk worth taking coming off a playoff season where the best pitcher during the regular season was 40-year old Bartolo Colon with Sonny Gray doing a good job too.

The soon to be 30-year old Kazmir velocity ticked up in 2013 after a host of false starts in 2011 and 2012 for the Angels, independent league teams (Sugar Land Skeeters), and Puerto Rican Professional team: Gigantes de Carolina. In short, his road back was not for lack of trying. In 2013, the Cleveland Indians took the flier on Kazmir and the results panned into a very respectable season. As MLBTraderumors.com relates:

Kazmir returned with a 92.5 mph heater and posted a 4.04 ERA In 158 innings for the Indians. He averaged 9.2 strikeouts and 2.7 walks per nine innings to go along with a 40.9 percent ground-ball rate. Because he did not receive a qualifying offer from Cleveland, Kazmir’s agreement won’t require the A’s to sacrifice their first-round pick.

Since the Indians passed on a qualifying offer of around 14.1M, the A’s waited patiently for their opportunity. Kazmir’s stuff has been substantially better after that nearly two-year hiatus from the bigs. (Maybe, well rested.) Oddly too, the A’s were mentioned in Moneyball as being adverse to a Kazmir drafting when the New York Mets signed him in 2002 in the first round. Nevertheless, as time goes by, what once was a problem to do (due to high school age pitching) turns into a solution (a mature guy with good makeup).

The 2013 A’s play to 96-66 record. Scored 767 runs, Allowed 625 runs. Pythagorean W-L: 96-66. Talk about efficiency. But, the crap-doesn’t-work-in-the-playoffs curse hit Oakland. That, and the Detroit Tigers.

But the ageless clock on Bartolo Colon and patience with Brett Anderson have undoubtedly run out. The soon to be 26 year old Anderson has progressed badly since his first two seasons at 21 and 22.  In 2011, Tommy John Surgery, requiring a 13-month rehab, sidelined him most of 2011 and 2012. Then an oblique strain cost him starts in 2012. In 2013, after an opening day start, he went out again with a stress fracture in his ankle. In short, the young man has been sabotaged by the injury bug. But Anderson will get a looksy from other bottom market, rental type pursuers, like Pittsburgh or even the Mets, who know about losing a potential ace in Matt Harvey.

So the A’s lined up a veteran left-hand replacement to what Anderson was to provide. Oakland, took this author’s idea of signing Kazmir for the Cubs. Quote from my other blog:

His RH/LH splits bode well also: RH hitters were .342 BABIP. This happened on all pitches but his cutter and curve, where those averages where decidedly better, .273 and .286. LH hitters had a pedestrian BABIP, and Kazmir exploited a 7.1K/BB ratio. Amazingly good.
So the downside?

Injury risk. He’s never crack 175IP since 2007, his sole 200+IP season. So that’s the concern.

Kazmir’s potential contract:
Year 1: 5M base, 3M incentive for 150IP
Year 2: 5M base, 6M incentive for 160IP
Year 3: 8M base on a vesting option of 300IP in Year 1 and 2, incentive of 4M. Player opt out clause.
Kazmir might be a break the pattern type. And 2-3 seasons of stability could be what he needs.

I wasn’t that far off. As year 2 I had him at 11M.

Mr. Beane I like your thinking….

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One Response to Scott Kazmir: Oakland A’s Swoop In; Take A Chance

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