Scott Kazmir, ready for Toronto?


The Toronto Blue Jays need help in the pitching department. Whether it be in the rotation or in the bullpen, Alex Anthopoulos need not say no.

Currently the pitching market is flush with starting pitchers, many of whom will join the free agent at the end of the year and thus will only be rental players for whomever forks over the cookie jar. The most popular names include the nearly untouchables Cole Hamels and stud Johnny Cueto. But are there other options?

Potentially, and those options could be equally as electrifying. One candidate, whom currently plays with the team the Jays recently fleeced for All-Star Josh Donaldson, is Scott Kazmir. Kazmir signed a two-year $22 million deal in 2014 with the Athletics and has regained much of what made him a former ace of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays years ago.

In his two seasons with the A’s he’s maintained a sub-four ERA with a similar FIP to go with it. More than that, after falling off track with his health earlier in his career, Kazmir has managed to throw 150 innings in each of the two past seasons and already has 83 next to his name this season.

If there were any more proof needed, Kazmir boasts a lower DRA than everyone in the Jays rotation except, yes, you guessed it, Marco Estrada.

For those unfamiliar with the new DRA terminology, it’s a new Baseball Prospectus statistic that incorporates a variety of different variables which effect a pitchers performance including situation, hitter and shockingly, weather among other things. It reads in similar fashion to ERA so fret not if you think it’s too far into the depths of the sabremetric world.

Kazmir’s sits at a respectable 3.21 which is surely enough to provide the Jays with a late season push into the post-season.

The draw back with Kazmir, according to the sceptics is his health. After losing much of his velocity in 2009 through 2011 as a then Devil Ray (see below), Kazmir refurbished his arm in 2013 and made a comeback with the Cleveland Indians. There he brandished a valuable 2.6 WAR with a misleading 4.04 ERA to a much truer 3.51 FIP. Kazmir used his renaissance to garnish himself an $11 million contract the following season where he became an All-Star as a valued member of Billy Bean’s Oakland Athletics.

There are at least two reasons this writer can produce for checking in on Kazmir. First, he won’t cost as much as other options on the market such as Johnny Cueto. Sure, he may not be as talented as Cueto, but at the end of the day, I’ll sacrifice a marginal downgrade if it means holding onto a better package of prospects.

Also, the Athletics can afford to make Kazmir expendable. With a rotation featuring Sonny Gray, Jesse Chavez, Jesse Hahn and the recently successful Kendall Graveman, the Athletics could afford to fill the number five spot with a replacement level player.

The second reason this trade makes sense for the Blue Jays is that Kazmir, unlike Cueto, is available right now. According to Jonah Keri of Grantland, the Reds ownership are planning on holding onto their trade pieces until after the All-Star break so to ensure as many as possible make an appearance at the mid-summer’s classic hosted on their own field.

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If the Jays are planning to make a deal they should prioritize that it come sooner rather than later for both the avoidance of a higher price at the deadline and the maximization of their value in return. It’s probable that acquiring a player like Kazmir will be done through moving prospects, so it’s crucial the player coming back in return contribute as much as possible for as long as possible during the major league season, even more so with the Jays’ labouring rotation.

Although Cueto, Hamels and the like may be more attractive, jaw dropping and exciting options, don’t count a player like Kazmir out on the potential value he could add to what could be a playoff stretch to remember in the great white north.