Yesterday we speculated that due to the current atmosphere in Major League Baseball, the Tampa Bay Rays would likely trade Scott Kazmir prior to the 2009 season. Today Rays of Light plays “Devil’s Advocate” to our obviously infallible argument, and suggests why the Rays should not trade their ace.

Let’s take a look at their key points…

After all of the strides that the Rays have made this offseason towards trying to build a winning teeam and finally having a chance to compete in the AL East, I just don’t think it behooves the club to consider trading its best player when at the cusp of becoming a winning team.

This is an excellent point and the strongest argument for keeping Kazmir around for 2009 and possibly 2010. As was pointed out in our comments, the Rays are in a much different situation than the Orioles are with Erik Bedard. The O’s are rebuilding. However, we feel that losing Kid K may not require a step-back in performance for the ballclub. The addition of Matt Garza, the extra year of maturity for Andy Sonnanstine and (gasp) Edwin Jackson, not to mention the emergence of David Price could make Kazmir’s loss moot. Most importantly, if the Rays want to remain consistently competitive as stated by the front office as their goal, then in the long-term, the Rays may be better off with the four or five prospects than they would be with Kazmir.

Scott Kazmir is more valuable to the Rays because of the amount of money he could help bring to the team by leading the Rays into a pennant race and, hopefully, winning a spot in the playoffs.

Again, we think the team can be just as competitive without Kazmir, especially 5-6 years down the road with all the prospects the Rays would receive in return. We have no idea how to quantify the effect of one star on the attendance for the Rays. They could very well be right. If it is true that the Rays would make more money from having Kazmir as opposed to not having him, then the team may indeed keep him around.

The thought of Kazmir being able to jump ship and getting nothing but draft picks back in return is a bit upsetting, but I think it can be spun in a way to make the franchise look like the good guys and maintain a strong fan base rather than suffering a severe backlash.

The Rays would only receive two first round picks for the loss of Kazmir via free agency. And consider the clubs that would be able to afford his services and we have to assume that the first pick would not come until late in the first round. The Rays can certainly obtain one or two good players via this route, but they would not be nearly as much of a certainty as prospects from higher levels. And we highly doubt there is any way to spin this in a positive light. The better argument is to trade Kazmir after 2009.

They can make some kind of cursory offer – something along the lines of 5 years, $60 million – that sounds fair and reasonable to the layman and makes Kazmir look like nothing more than just another greedy athlete on his way out the door when he rejects it.

If the Rays did this just prior to free agency…first Kazmir and his agent would laugh at the Rays. Then the fans would be angry. And finally the rest of baseball would point and say “That’s the Rays being the Rays”. A “cursory” offer would be 5 years/$75 million. And that is still going to come up two years short. Don’t overlook the years and just stare at the numbers after the dollar sign. The number of years will be just as important to a young pitcher.

And for what would he be traded? A few prospects and the hope that one of the young arms in the organization develops to be his replacement? Isn’t that the kind of pie-in-the-sky thinking that gets franchises in trouble? You KNOW what you’re getting with Scott Kazmir; Jake McGee on the other hand? Not so much.

True. But Kazmir is not the Rays only good/great pitcher. They still have James Shields and Garza. And the Rays are in the enviable position of having a number of top pitching prospects that are close to the majors. If McGee doesn’t pan out, there is still Wade Davis. And if Davis doesn’t pan out there is still Price. And if Price doesn’t pan out, etc…In other words…Eventually somebody will step up and fill Kid K’s shoes.

He is the best chance of the Rays winning the World Series, and there’s no price tag that can be put on that.

At the end of the day, THIS is the big question. Would the Rays be willing to sacrifice a bit of the future for the chance to take one shot at glory in 2009 or 2010? We honestly do not know the answer to this question, but everything the front office has ever said suggests that their #1 priority is to build a team that can be competitive every year.

Trading Scott Kazmir after the 2008 season is the best chance to achieve the goal of building a consistent winner.

Scott Kazmir Likely To Be Traded Following 2008 Season [Rays Index]
Rebuttal: Scott Kazmir Likely To Be Traded Following 2008 Season [Rays of Light]


1 Comment

  1. Scott says:

    "... our obviously infallible argument"

    I didn't even think of it that way before I started to write it. Excellent point. You win this round, sir.


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