The Los Angeles Dodgers are putting together a solid rotation. Ace Clayton Kershaw is joined by veteran Rich Hill and phenom Julio Urias, in addition to Japanese sophomore Kenta Maeda. Scott Kazmir was signed an offseason ago on the expectation he’d be a piece of that group, but instead he’s an afterthought.
Kazmir finished 2016 10-6 with a 4.56 ERA and was left off the postseason roster. After steady showings for the A’s and Astros in 2015, he regressed mightily. In 63 less innings, Kazmir allowed one more homer while allowing only six fewer earned runs and an increased walk rate from 2.9 per nine innings to 3.4.
ESPN’s Buster Olney reported the Dodgers were shopping Kazmir in early December. Obviously the team has yet to find a taker, largely because of the two seasons and $32 million remaining on his deal.
Despite the underwhelming results, Kazmir could still be a contributor as a mid-to-bottom of the rotation option on a starter-starved team. That doesn’t mean he has any trade value though; in fact, he has very little. The problem goes beyond the money: Kazmir has logged 200 innings just once (as a 23-year-old in 2007) and has broken 190 innings just one time since 2008. He’s struggled with consistency, both in performance and health.
On the plus side, Kazmir’s strikeouts per nine ascended from 7.6 to 8.8, which is close to his 8.6 career average. There’s not much more positive outside of that. But even if his A’s performance was an over-achievement, if he can pitch as he did in Cleveland, he’s a serviceable rotation option.
A team such as San Diego, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Miami, Minnesota or the New York Yankees would benefit from a healthy Kazmir. Regardless of the funds available for the buying team, the Dodgers have to eat some of his contract. It’s better to admit a mistake than force him into action in an attempt to rectify it.
If Kazmir is on the roster come March, he’ll compete for a role on the team. Maybe he improves enough to hold a bullpen spot. Though unlikely, he could fight his way into the No. 5 slot of the rotation. Kazmir is almost guaranteed to pass through waivers if it came to that. Ultimately the Dodgers will see if he can build any semblance of value this spring while monitoring injuries and desperation, then move him before Opening Day.