Following last night’s game, the Rays made it official, sending Scott Kazmir to the Angels. Let’s take a look at what we know and then breakdown the trade…
WHAT WE KNOW: The Rays will get three minor leaguers for Kazmir, two of which we know already. The players the Rays will receive:
- Alexander Torres, a 21-year old lefty that was recently promoted to double-A. He was 10-3 with a 2.74 ERA with 124 strikeouts in 121.1 innings at high-A. He is 2-1 with a 4.20 ERA in three double-A starts.
- Matthew Sweeney, a third baseman. He is 21 and was an 8th round pick in 2006. He is hitting .299/.379/.517 with 9 home runs in 58 games at high-A.
- A player to be named later. (see below)
We also know that no money changed hands in this deal, which includes about $1 million this season, $8 million next year and $12 million in 2011. There is also a $13.5 million option for 2012 with a $2.5 million buyout. So the Angels are on the hook for at least $24.5 million.
We also know that Wade Davis will likely be called up to replace Kazmir in the rotation.
THE GOOD: The only absolute GOOD about this deal right now is the money saved. We know that before this deal, the Rays projected payroll for 2010 was about $77 million. We also know that the Rays needed to borrow from next year’s budget just to get the 2009 payroll up to $63 million. So the Rays needed to trim some fat from next year’s payroll and trading Kazmir goes a long way to getting the payroll back down to a manageable level.
There are other potential GOODs. Davis may be better than Kazmir down the stretch. One or more of the players acquired could become an all-star. Kazmir could lose his left arm in a freak koala bear accident while hiking the Outback this off-season. But until we actually see any of that happen, the only GOOD is the salary dump.
THE BAD: As far as the big league team is concerned, the Rays traded a known (Scott Kazmir) for an unknown (Wade Davis). Certainly one could argue that Kazmir has been below replacement-level most of the season, but recently he had been pitching better and right now we have ZERO idea what Davis will bring to the table.
The Rays say that trading Kazmir has no affect on their playoff chances. But when was the last time you saw a playoff contender give up a starting pitcher that was pitching well and replace him with a minor leaguer in August? In fact, we are struggling to think of any rookie starting pitcher that was called up in September and helped a team to the playoffs. Can you guys think of any? (see comments)
One can also make a strong case that the Rays would have been better off waiting until after the season to trade Kazmir. In August, the only team bidding was the team that won the waiver claim, the Angels. In the off-season, the Rays might have been able to open up a bidding war. And for all of Kazmir’s struggles, he is still only 25, a power-lefty with a good track record and a reasonable contract for the next two years. We have to believe more than a few teams would have been interested.
Finally, the trade just looks bad. For a franchise that is desperate to build a fanbase, trading away a solid starting pitcher for 3 minor leaguers in the heat of the playoff race, just looks cheap. And it looks like the team cares more about the bottom line than they do about winning.
In fact, on July 10, Stuart Sternberg said the following: “As long as we’re in the hunt I don’t see us, because of financial reasons, pulling back from that.” In other words, Sternberg said the Rays wouldn’t cut payroll and right now, that is exactly what it looks like the Rays did (h/t RaysProspects).
THE TELLING: Joe Maddon on the player to be named later: He is “a very interesting player that I’m very excited about.”
This tells us that the PTBNL is a minor leaguer on the Angels 40-man roster. A PTBNL cannot be on the 25-man roster, but players on the 40-man roster can only be traded if they clear waivers. In order to trade a minor leaguer on the 40-man roster, the teams will just call him a PTBNL and then move him after the season.
This is the key to the deal. There are some interesting names being bandied about. Brandon Wood’s name has come up quite a bit in the speculation. A player like that is going to make this deal more palatable.
And that PTBNL may not be the last part of this “move.” When we spoke with Andrew Friedman last October, one point he was adamant about, was that no single move is made in a vacuum. He said that there is always a bigger picture and every move fits within that picture.
Let’s assume for the moment that this move was not a salary dump. What if World B. Friedman wanted to add a player for the final month, but was not able to add the payroll. Maybe moving Scott Kazmir frees up the salary necessary to make another move. And maybe this mystery addition, along with Wade Davis, is indeed a considerable upgrade over Kazmir.
Andrew Friedman handles this team like a chess master. He is always thinking 2-3 moves ahead and he understands that winning almost always requires sacrificing the occasional rook.