File this one under “unlikely August trades”.
The Angels add the 25-year-old Scott Kazmir to a rotation swamped with doctor visits all season with the knowledge that Kazmir himself is injury prone. His velocity is down from years past, and his stuff isn’t generating the same kind of whiffs as it once did, which is reflective in his contact and strikeout rates. That being said, he’s been quite a bit better since returning from the disabled list in June and working with Rick Peterson.
His deal is only guaranteed for an additional two seasons at 20 million with a club option for 2012 thrown in. As outlandish as this would’ve read when the extension was signed, there’s a real chance that Kazmir will fail to be worth the 20 million over the next two seasons. He’s looking at his second straight ~league average performance and his durability has always been a concern. Pitchers don’t age like hitters, so there’s no guarantee that Kazmir will ever top his 2007 season. That’s not to say he’ll continue to get progressively worse, but Kazmir the strikeout king probably won’t walk through the doors anytime soon.
Still, moving forward ZiPS projects him for a modest 3.82 FIP moving forward. That’s a bit worse than John Lackey, about equal to Jered Weaver, and a bit better than Ervin Santana. Kazmir isn’t an ace anymore, and the Angels aren’t asking him to be one. He has the capability of being a solid starter as long as he remains healthy.
The Rays clear up salary and get three young players in return. Carson mentioned Alexander Torres a few days ago and the book on him is simple: he’s a 21-year-old short lefty with a heavy fastball capable of missing bats and generating grounders while boasting extreme strikeout ratios and just as extreme walk rates.
Matthew Sweeney is a big lefty who is listed at third base but probably moves over to first for the Rays because of that one guy, Evan Langoria, Longoria? Whatever. Injuries have lowered Sweeney’s stock and his numbers are inflated thanks to the California League.
The third player is officially listed as a player to be named later, but it’s believed to be a player currently on the Angels 40-man roster who simply wouldn’t clear waivers.
Both teams seem to fair decently here. The Angels can afford Kazmir and his inherent risks while the Rays simply cannot. People are going to accuse the Rays of quitting on 2009 but the playoffs were a longshot anyways, and the difference between Kazmir and Andy Sonnanstine over a handful of starts isn’t going to make or break their chances.
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