Not bringing Kazmir back will be a mistake for A’s
First the Cleveland Indians took a chance on Scott Kazmir, signing him to a minor league deal after he had been out of baseball for almost two full seasons. He pitched well and the Oakland Athletics then decided take a bigger chance on Kazmir, signing him to a two-year $22 million contract.
Kazmir was an All-Star in 2014 for the third time in his career and, even though he struggled in the second half of 2015 season after being traded to the Houston Astros at the deadline, he still finished the season with a 3.10 ERA. Kazmir is a number two or number three starter and would be a good addition to any team. He hit the free agent market after the season.
Rumor had it the A’s were supposedly in on the Kazmir sweepstakes along with the Royals and Astros, with more teams beginning to inquire about the 31-year-old right-hander.
On Monday, however, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that after signing former Miami Marlins pitcher Henderson Alvarez to a one-year $4 million deal on Saturday the A’s were out of the race to sign Kazmir.
If the rumor Rosenthal reported turns out to be true, then the A’s will be making a big mistake. They’ve spent money on new set-up man Ryan Madson but their many of their other signings (John Axford, Rich Hill, Alvarez) have been relatively inexpensive, making signing Kazmir not completely out of the question.
The A’s don’t have a lot of money to spend and are not known to spend, however, not spending approximately $13-14 million per year on Kazmir could end up being a mistake. So far the only three players who are guaranteed a spot in the starting rotation; Sonny Gray, Rich Hill and Kendall Graveman. The next two spots could be occupied by a number of different players, depending upon their health and their performance in the spring.
The A’s have quite a bit of starting pitching depth. Most are either inexperienced or rookies (Chris Bassitt, Aaron Brooks, Sean Manaea) and those who have proven themselves in the past but are recovering from injury (Jesse Hahn, Jarrod Parker, Alvarez). Not one of them can be completely relied upon, at this point.
The A’s need to remain in the running to get Kazmir. Kazmir has proven he can be a strong number two behind Sonny Gray. In the first half of 2015 with Oakland he went 5-5 with a 2.38 ERA and 1.08 WHIP. He struck out 8.3 batters per nine innings. He’s reliable and they need someone they can count on in the rotation.
There is no telling, given his spotty record, if Rich Hill will duplicate the success he had in Boston with the Red Sox last season. He went 2-1 in four starts for the Red Sox posting a 1.55 ERA, a 0.65 WHIP and threw a complete game, 2-hit shutout. He also struck out 10 batters in each of his first three starts. There are also no guarantees on who will be healthy and even if they are, how far into the season will they get before fatigue would start to set in. Hill pitched just 29.0 innings last year, so the A’s shouldn’t expect him to get anywhere near 200.0 innings in 2016.
Scott Kazmir would solve a lot of potential problems for the A’s, he likes Oakland, fit in well there in the clubhouse and he can be a solid number two starter. Signing Kazmir would stabilize the rotation and make the decision for the fifth position much easier for manager Bob Mevlin to make.
The A’s absolutely need to, at the very least, stay in the running for Kazmir. He would make the A’s rotation instantly more formidable and he’s interested in returning to Oakland. Knowing a lot about the A’s ownership, it’s unlikely that they will want to splurge on Kazmir after spending a whole $4 million on Alvarez over the weekend.
However, executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane and general manager David Forst, who want to put together the best team possible.Signing Kazmir would help them towards that goal and there is always a chance that the team owners, Lew Wolff and John Fischer, could ok the signing.
Regardless, if they end up with Kazmir or not, the A’s need to stay in the Kazmir sweepstakes. Who knows? They might actually get him cheaper than thought. The worst case scenario being that they will lose out to another club and be in the same position they are in now. The A’s would be stupid not to try and bring back Scott Kazmir.