Dodgers Bolster Starting Rotation with Scott Kazmir


In a much needed move to strengthen a questionable starting rotation, the Los Angeles Dodgers signed lefty Scott Kazmir on Tuesday to a reported three-year contract worth $48 million.

The deal involves several deferred payments, as well as an opt-out clause which may be exercised after only one season. The deferred money is reported to consist of three payments of $8 million each, spread out from 2019-2021.

Because he was dealt mid-season to the Houston Astros, the Dodgers did not surrender a draft pick to sign Kazmir.

At age 20, Kazmir began his career in Tampa Bay with Andrew Friedman as his GM in August of 2004. Despite his young age, Kazmir quickly became one of the better left-handed starting pitchers in the American League, primarily relying on a mid-90s fastball coupled with an extremely effective slider.

Nagging injuries led to inconsistencies from 2008-2011, and eventually forced Kazmir out of MLB entirely. After logging endless hours of individual work and persevering through several independent and winter league seasons, Kazmir signed a minor league deal with the Cleveland Indians before the 2013 season and eventually earned a spot in their big league rotation .

Since returning to the Majors, Kazmir, who turns 32 in January, has compiled a 3.54 ERA with a 8.1 K/9 and a 2.6 BB/9. In 2015, Kazmir was 7-11 with a 3.10 ERA and 1.208 WHIP in 31 starts between Oakland and Houston, recording 155 strikeouts and 59 walks in 183 innings of work.

The addition of Kazmir creates the potential for an all-lefty starting rotation, also featuring Clayton Kershaw, Brett Anderson, Alex Wood and Hyun-jin Ryu, if healthy.

The opt-out clause seems strategic for both parties in some senses. If Kazmir throws well in 2016 (considering the pitcher-friendliness of Dodger Stadium), he could opt-out and join a very scarce free agent market next year. In doing so, the Dodgers could potentially gain an extra draft pick if they extend a qualifying offer.

If the Dodgers add more starters via trade or free agency, and stay healthy through July in the process, they could possibly deal Kazmir to a contender before the trade deadline and conceivably gain a high-level prospect in return.

The Dodgers are also rumored to be in pursuit of Japanese righty Kenta Maeda, who was posted by the Hiroshima Carp earlier this month. The addition of Maeda, paired with a potential mid-season return of Brandon McCarthy, may perhaps balance out the rotation in terms of right-handers vs. left-handers.

Maeda has a 30-day window to make a contract decision which expires on January 8.

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