The Los Angeles Dodgers have acquired the rotation upgrade they were seeking, inking veteran left-hander Scott Kazmir to a three-year, $48 million deal, the team has confirmed.
Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times was first to report that both sides had an agreement in place.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports added that Kazmir can opt out of the deal after the first year. Also, Kazmir’s deal is structured in a way that will defer his salary over the next six years, Joel Sherman of the New York Post explains.
#Dodgers deferring Kazmir 3-$48M over 6 yrs so getting $8M annually in that period including $5M sign bonus and $3M salary this year
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) December 30, 2015
Kazmir, 31, is not an elite upgrade for the Dodgers’ rotation, but the well-traveled lefty has been a solid pitcher since returning to the majors in 2013. Last season, Kazmir split time between the Oakland Athletics and Houston Astros, but enjoyed most of his success with the A’s, going 5-5 with 2.38 ERA in 18 starts in Oakland.
After a trade at the deadline brought Kazmir to the Astros— as the team made the playoffs as one of the two AL Wild Card teams — Kazmir went just 2-6 with a 4.17 ERA in 13 starts. He finished the 2015 campaign with a combined 7-11 record, 3.10 ERA, and 31 starts through 183 innings.
With the signing official, Kazmir took to Twitter to express his excitement with donning the Dodger blue.
What a great day to officially be a Dodger! Happy birthday to my lefty idol Sandy Koufax!
— Scott Kazmir (@scottkazmir19) December 30, 2015
After being traded from the New York Mets as a top prospect to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2004, Kazmir established himself as one of the top, young starters in the game. From 2005-2009, Kazmir averaged 11 wins, a 3.77 ERA, and about 170 innings for the Devil Rays and the Los Angeles Angels (Kazmir was traded to Los Angeles in 2009).
However, injuries set in for Kazmir, costing him a huge chunk of his velocity, and the success began to dwindle. Elbow, shoulder, and hamstring issues prevented Kazmir from pitching and pitching effectively when on the mound. So after an abysmal 2010 with the Angels (9-15, 5.94 ERA) and just one-and-two-thirds innings of 27.00 ERA ball in 2011, the Angels released Kazmir despite his lofty $14.5 million salary, per the LA Times.
Kazmir took his struggles to the independent circuit of baseball in 2012, pitching for the Sugar Land Skeeters of the Atlantic League and the Gigantes de Carolina of the Puerto Rican Professional Baseball League. Reports claimed Kazmir’s fastball velocity had returned, and the results showed.
The Cleveland Indians took a flier on Kazmir in 2013 and he rewarded them with his best season since 2009, going 10-9 with a 4.04 ERA in 29 starts (158 innings). After the strong showing, Kazmir inked a two-year, $22 million deal with the A’s prior to 2014, per MLB.com.
Although he finished the second year of the deal in Houston, Kazmir delivered one-and-a-half solid seasons of work for the A’s, making the AL All-Star team in 2014. As noted by MLB Trade Rumors, “Kazmir has compiled a 3.54 ERA with 8.1 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and a ground-ball rate of roughly 43 percent,” since his return in 2013.
After missing out on re-signing Zack Greinke and losing out on Hisashi Iwakuma due to a concern with his medicals, the Dodgers were letting the offseason go by without upgrading the rotation. As mentioned, Kazmir is not considered an elite pitcher in a class with Greinke and David Price, but he represents a considerable upgrade.
If the Dodgers’ rotation can stay healthy, it could possibly feature an all left-handed cast with Kazmir, Clayton Kershaw, Alex Wood, Brett Anderson, and Hyun-jin Ryu.
[Featured Image by Ed Zurga/Getty Images]