Supporters of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ front office have had to juggle logic with their own moments of questioning what might be going on. Basically, while shots come in on the front office from all angles, we (I’ll admit, I believe in the front office) are forced to give the benefit of the doubt to people we’ve seen work all of one season.
All offseason, the message has been: “They’ll do something and, if not, they’re fine either way. But please, do something.”
Finally, Wednesday afternoon, the Dodgers did something. They signed left-handed starting pitcher Scott Kazmir to a deal that makes sense for both sides.
First and foremost, the Dodgers have clearly stated their intention of remaining competitive while cutting cost. As hard as it’s been for the national media to grasp that at times (hence the level of speculative reporting), the front office has remained strident in that goal. Kudos to the local media for (mostly) sticking to the facts in that sense.
In Kazmir, the Dodgers saw a starting pitcher they most definitely need at a rate worth paying. Take a look around the league at contracts handed out thus far and Kazmir looks like a pretty good bargain not just in terms of the amount he’s paid per year, but also when you consider the length of the contact.
Here’s Jon Heyman with the breakdown.
kazmir gets $5M signing bonus. with salary technically $11M in 2016. but it still works out to 16-16-16 by year.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 30, 2015
Kazmir can opt out after the end of this season and, if he chooses not to, he has years two and three of his contract guaranteed, but at that same rate of between $15 and $16 million.
For the Dodgers, they sign a reliable starting pitcher at a reasonable rate without giving up a compensatory pick. For comparison, Hisashi Iwakuma would’ve cost basically the same amount of money and over the same number of years; but would’ve cost the Dodgers that pick. If Kazmir bolts after 2016, the Dodgers receive a compensatory pick — huge difference there.
Kazmir gets to prove himself in a pitcher’s park and arguably one of the best defenses in baseball with the flexibility to test the open market in a next year’s weak free agent class. If things don’t go as he’d like, oh well, he gets $32 million over the next two seasons. There are worse situations for a pitcher to sign up for this late in any given offseason.
A lot has been made since the signing of the Dodgers’ left-handed-dominant pitching staff, which is understandable given how rarely it’s seen. As a fellow southpaw, I honestly just want to watch at least one rotation of all lefties, but I highly doubt that’ll be the case.
The Dodgers remain interested in acquiring another starting pitcher who will almost definitely throw from the right side of the rubber. They’ve been heavily tied to Kenta Maeda especially since the Iwakuma deal fell through and seem perpetually active on the trade market.
Think of it like your fantasy football league. If you’re drafting or active on the waiver wire and a quality player at any given position becomes available, do you pass up on picking that player up, or add them and make it work later to fill another hole on your roster? The Dodgers are thinking opportunistically and, in this case, have a surplus at this one position they could use to offset issues at others.
There’s also this interesting stat, via Joel Sherman.
#Dodgers might have 5 LHs in rotation, but Kazmir is reverse split guy: LHs had .774 OPS v. him last yr, RHs .645. Career: .744/.656
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) December 30, 2015
Much of this has to do with Kazmir’s changeup, which, as explained by Farhan Zaidi via True Blue L.A.’s Eric Stephen, should quell some of the concern on so many lefties.
“Kaz is a guy who has very balanced splits. His best pitch is a changeup, which really neutralizes righties. He’s not a quote-unquote lefty in a conventional sense.”
We’re left back at how so many conversations have gone this offseason. The Dodgers made their move, probably have more to make and we’re left to wonder how that might go. Furthermore, even if no next move is coming, the roster as is should be considered the favorite to finish atop the NL West.
With plenty of the offseason left to play out, all we can do is sit by and wait for the next move, which will probably be just as mutually-beneficial as this one.