Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus has been on a Rays kick recently. In his latest, Sheehan thinks the Rays should trade Scott Kazmir.
So, I think they should trade him. Kazmir is exactly the kind of player who should be marketed aggressively by his team, especially when he’s going well, because his perceived value is much higher than his actual value. Kazmir is a left-handed starter who throws in the mid to high 90s, has a strong breaking ball and is young enough to get people excited about his potential. In part because of the circumstances of his becoming a Ray, one of the worst trades of the decade, Kazmir has had a disproportionate amount of attention focused on him since before he ever threw a major league pitch.
Separate the pitcher out from all of that, and you get someone who is good, but not great, someone high-risk with a decreasing likelihood of high reward. Someone who fits the mold of a player who brings you back more, considering the money you’ll save on his (reasonable) contract, than you’re going to get from him on the mound.
Sheehan then throws in about 800 more words that basically say Kazmir is an injury risk and won’t get any better.
To which we respond: HE IS ONLY 25-YEARS OLD! Since when is 25 a peak season for major leaguers?
It is easy to forget how young Kid K is considering he already has 125 career starts. And it is also easy to forget that Kazmir has never had a serious arm injury despite warnings to the contrary since he was drafted out of high school. And maybe it is easy to forget that no team in baseball cares for their pitchers better than the Rays do. Last year, the Rays had five pitchers make at least 27 starts. Not many teams can boast that claim.
But let’s look past the part where Kazmir is perceived as a 34-year old middle reliever. Trading another starting pitcher just doesn’t make any sense.
In fact, it goes against the Rays business model (something we have argued previously). For the Rays to compete in the AL East, it is imperative to lock up young talented players to long-term deals and below market value. That is what they have in Kazmir, who is signed through 2012. And the Rays understands as well as any team, the value of pitching and more importantly the value of pitching depth.
The Rays traded two starting pitchers this off-season because they had to. There just wasn’t room on the roster. But at this point, there is no need to trade Kazmir, and as Sheehan points out, there is no immediate need on the major league roster that needs to be filled.
We know Sheehan is just trying to stir the pot. But this one doesn’t fly. The Rays are too smart to trade Scott Kazmir.
Prospectus Today [Baseball Prospectus]