Outs Per Swing takes a look at Scott Kazmir’s numbers and notes that almost all are regressing this season. This leads to the question: “Should The Rays Trade Scott Kazmir?”
So why would you consider trading a 24 year old flame throwing left hander? Because his trade value has never been higher than it is this season. His last start aside, he’s been having a good season and people still see Kazmir as a player who’s not yet reached his full potential. But who’s to say this isn’t as good as Kazmir gets? What if he’s just a good, but not great, lefty who continues to have injury problems?
OPS goes on to note that the Rays have a stockpile of young pitching and have an immediate need for offense, particularly in the outfield. They specifically point to the package the A’s received this year for Dan Haren, and note that a package for Kazmir would be equal to, or greater in value.
Back in February, we predicted that Kid K would be traded this off-season. That was before Kazmir signed a 4-year contract extension. Now our position is that, unless the Rays want to be the A’s, that is “always the bridesmaid and never the bride”, they absolutely cannot trade Kazmir.
There are several reasons…
- Kazmir is still young at 24, the youngest pitcher in the rotation. OPS wonders if “this isn’t as good as Kazmir gets?” Rarely do players peak at age 23. Not even Barry Zito peaked that early. Most 23 year old pitchers are still in the minors and yet Kazmir has 122 career starts and 46 career wins.
- Yes, Kazmir’s numbers have regressed this season. But it is just one season and he missed Spring Training. This could just be a case where Kid K never got his feet under him this season. And yet Kazmir still has an ERA+ of 124.
- Young, power lefties do not grow on trees. Most GMs and managers would give their left cajone for just one, and the Rays will have two next season, with Kazmir and David Price.
- Kazmir is signed to a below-market contract for the next 4 seasons. He will make $14 million over the next two seasons ($6MM in ’09 and $8MM in ’10). Kazmir would be worth double that amount on the open market.
- Why not trade Andy Sonnanstine or Edwin Jackson? Both are young (25) and both have shown considerable improvement this season. Neither player would bring back a Haren-like bounty, but teams will pay handsomely for a young pitcher entering their prime with an upward trend in their stat line.
- If the Rays trade Kazmir, both Jackson and Sonny are in the rotation next season. In what is arguably a bad year for Kazmir, his numbers are still better than Jackson and Sonnanstine. Kazmir gives the Rays a better chance to win the World Series. Which is more likely: Kazmir winning 20 games and the Cy Young award in ’09? Or Sonnanstine or Jackson doing the same…ever?
- Winning is about 3 things…Pitching, Pitching and Pitching. You can never have too much pitching, especially when that pitching is a known commodity. Kazmir is not a prospect that may one day be a good pitcher. He is a good pitcher with the ability to be a great pitcher.
Nobody trades a pitcher like Scott Kazmir, unless their name is Billy Beane (and maybe the Marlins). Beane has done a great job stockpiling talent, but he is rolling the dice every season hoping a roster full of 24-26 year old players will blossom at the same time. That doesn’t happen very often. And once a player hits arbitration they are traded. The down-side is a roster that is constantly in flux.
The Rays on the other hand are stockpiling talent and signing young players to extensions that keep them with the team into their peak seasons. Trading Scott Kazmir goes against what the Rays are trying to do. That is, build a team that can compete every season.
OPS does note that the Rays should only consider trading Kazmir “if the right situation arises.”
If the Rays had failed in their efforts to sign Kazmir to a long-term contract then we would be on board. But building a core of young talented players that have a known price tag over several seasons is the goal of this franchise and why they will not only be successful this season, but for seasons to come. To make a short story, long…Trading Kazmir goes against the Tampa Bay Rays business model.
Trading Aces; The Rays $40 Million Dollar Question…. [Outs Per Swing]