It’s true that the A’s are taking something of a risk in signing Scott Kazmir to a two-year deal worth $22 million, but you have to like their thinking.
Yes, this deal, which won’t be official until Kazmir passes his physical exam, means that Bartolo Colon won’t be back after winning 18 games as an All-Star in 2013. Colon is 40, however, meaning he’s not in the long-term plans no matter what team he’s with.
Kazmir will be the oldest member of the A’s pitching staff, it’s true, but he’s only 29. And while bringing the lefty aboard for all that money after he posted a 29-33 record from 2009-13, there are some indications that he’s closer to his pre-2009 style. He was 47-37 with a 3.61 ERA in his first five years with Tampa Bay, including a couple of All-Star selections.
This is a good move for the A’s in a couple of ways. First, he went 5-5 with a 3.38 ERA in the second half of the 2013 season with the Indians, increasing his strikeouts and decreasing his walks. That performance suggested he’s rediscovered his stuff after years in the wilderness that included a stop in the independent leagues.
He averaged just 2.7 walks per nine innings and 9.2 strikeouts per nine innings with the Indians. In the second half, his strikeouts jumped to 10.3 per nine innings while his walks decreased to 2.1 per nine innings.
Second his addition means the A’s will have at least one left-hander in the rotation come 2014. There are two other left-handed candidates on the staff, Brett Anderson and Tommy Milone. Either one could make the rotation, but baseball insiders continue to say the A’s are open to the trade of Anderson, who has drawn interest in the past from the Blue Jays.
Assuming the A’s don’t make any other moves in the rotation, manager Bob Melvin will go to camp with no starter over the age of 29 (Kazmir) and all the members of the rotation under club control through at least 2015.
In short, it’s a deal with plenty of upside for Oakland.