According to AOL Fanhouse, the Tampa Bay Rays are interested in clearing payroll by dealing starting pitcher Scott Kazmir, who is in the first year of a three-year, $28.5 million contract. One source within the Tampa Bay organization has said that Kazmir has “some interest” in playing for the Angels, and as a result, the Rays have been scouting the Halos’ farm system in recent weeks.
The problem is that Kazmir, despite a 3.49 ERA last season, is having a rough 2009 campaign, as his ERA is well over 6 and his WHIP stands at 1.72. So with these numbers, why on earth would Tony Reagins and Mike Scioscia be remotely interested in the lefty starter? Well, there are a few legitimate reasons for L.A. to be considering a trade for Kazmir.
For one, his salary is affordable, as he makes $6 million this year and has two years and $22.5 million remaining on his contract after this season, not counting an $800,000 bonus that is to be paid if he is traded away from the Rays. On the contrary, a guy like Toronto’s Roy Halladay is due about $20 million over the final year and a half of his contract.
The second reason that a Kazmir deal looks somewhat intriguing at this point is that it could be made without trading away half the farm system. As previously stated, Kazmir is having a dismal year, and as a result, it might not take too many prospects to acquire the lefthanded starter. If he could then revert back to his 2008 form, it could be a bargain for the Halos. On the flip side, a trade for Halladay or even Cleveland’s Cliff Lee would cost the Angels at least 3 or 4 top of the line prospects.
But to be perfectly honest, there is little reason for Reagins to pull the trigger on this one. Just based on his performance this year, Kazmir really isn’t better than any of the pitchers the Angels have on their roster right. His abysmal ERA of 6.69 is far worse than that of Joe Saunders’s (4.94) and just as dismal as Ervin Santana’s (6.79). John Lackey, Jered Weaver, Shane Loux, Matt Palmer, and Sean O’Sullivan, all appear to be better than Kazmir at this point. So with seven quality starters on roster, why go out and give up prospects for a struggling Kazmir?
While it is possible to get the 2008 Kazmir, many are doubtful that he can return to that high-level performance this season. In his last start, Kazmir experienced some cramping in his left forearm in addition to experiencing pain in his elbow earlier in the year. After going through the whole ordeal with Kelvim Escobar, why would the Angels try to acquire a pitcher, who looks as if he could be headed to the DL any day now?
Unless all they have to give up is scraps, there is little point at this time in making a deal for Kazmir.