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.

 
 

25 Comments

  1. Carey says:

    Quote: “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.”

    What are you thinking here? Any ideas?

    • I don’t have a specific name off the top of my head. But what are the Rays biggest needs right now? Maybe a power arm in the bullpen? Right now they are overloaded with crafty guys and Balfour is the only power arm. The Red Sox seem to have 14 guys in the pen that can throw 100mph. Rays might also be able to use a veteran bat. Somebody that is more consistent than these young guys. And Rays might want to go to 6 starters at least part-time in September, so a veteran starter with an expiring contract might be attractive.

  2. Paul Wiezorek says:

    People are so impatient. We have a good team that is not likely to make the playoffs this year, but has often been an entertaining team to watch. Rays fans should have a little respect and patience for management, and let this deal play out. After all, this is the same management team that built an American League Champion team. You just don’t do that every year with the payroll issues we have. They play big league ball competitively on a bare bones budget. If you don’t like it, become a Red Sox or Yankees fan, or buy the remaining 20,000 unsold tickets at home games.

    • Beth says:

      Well said, Paul. I admit my first reaction to this deal was a sense of disappointment…but after sleeping on it I see it differently. As a fan, all you can ask over the long run is for your team to still be playing meaningful games in August and September, and the Rays have given that now two years running. Small market teams are the business equivalent of finesse pitchers — they can’t just power their way by, but rather have to hit their locations — and in this (admittedly strained) analogy, that means carefully examining each player’s value vis a vis his salary at any given moment.

      We’ll have to wait at least a few months to judge this deal. Yeah, Kaz has indeed been pitching better of late, which makes it hard to see him go….but it also makes no sense to trade a player who is doing badly, because you get so little in return.

      And honestly, the Rays have been a long-shot for the wild card for a while now.

  3. Dirtbag Fan says:

    Kaz wins about 55% of his starts, he had about 6-7 starts left this season… so lets say he would’ve won 4 of those…

    Now, lets use Sonny as his theoretical replacement since we have MLB data to draw from, Sonny wins about 49% of his starts… he’d win 3 of those 6 or 7 starts…

    So if it were Sonny replacing Kaz the Rays would only theoretically be sacrificing 1 game this year despite the fact that Sonny’s not nearly as “attractive” in the rotation as Kaz …

    and in return for that 1 game we get to see CC stay a Ray for another entire season in 2010…

    Does that sound like a bad deal to you??

    • I’m not saying it is a bad deal. In fact, maybe 90% of the Bad in this deal is just living with perception that Rays aren’t trying to win. But that being said, let me play Devil’s Advocate…

      What if Rays miss playoffs by 1 game and they would have been able to get a comparable package for Kaz this off-season, thus allowing Rays to keep Crawford? Some hypotheticals for sure, but wouldn’t that make this a bad deal?

  4. Great analysis, Cork! I’m still on the side that says this was a salary dump, pure and simple. But, you gave me much more to think about.

    Still, what bothers me the most is the perception that the team is “giving up.” I don’t think Cleveland, Pittsburgh, or Miami has ever fallen this low. It’s almost as if Rays management wishes the Rays had taken a dump in the 2nd half like the Blue Jays so they could get rid of even more salary.

    • Paul Wiezorek says:

      Fallen this low? What would we have gotten for Kaz had he not had a couple of good starts lately? Earlier this year he stunk, last year he certainly didn’t deserve his ace salary. We didn’t dump all of our players like the Marlins after their World Series. Pittsburgh dumped Barry Bonds. Maybe that happened before your time. We are talking about Scott Kazmir. Some perspective PLEASE. Talk about exaggerations! Jeez.

      • When was the last time a team traded a starting pitcher this late into a season when they were still in contention? That’s what I’m talking about when I say “fallen so low.” Color it any way you want, but Friedman and co. have set the bar real high for this franchise when it comes to buying vs selling. Obviously, this team feels that salary is much more important than trying to make a run down the stretch.

        And answer me this: Who is responsible for Kazmir’s “ace salary he doesn’t deserve?” The same guys who people are now saying are “smart” for dumping it. This really stinks.

        • Paul Wiezorek says:

          What would you write next year when they couldn’t keep Bartlett, CC, Pena, Upton, etc.? How stupid the management is for not managing the money? They all have salary increases coming. The Rays can’t print their own money like other teams. Kaz leaving may or may not have any effect on this year. Salary problems for a small market team are a fact. Small market teams churn young talent. They keep who they can and move on. The Rays would likely have gotten far less for him in the offseason. You act like Kaz would have won all the rest of his games and whoever the Rays bring in will cause them to lose those games. The Rays will likely not be in the playoffs because of a lot of reasons, not just one starting pitcher every 5th game.

          Kazmir did look like he would develop into an ace at the time, and would have received that kind of salary from a lot of teams.

          By the way, Pittsburgh also dumped Bobby Bonilla, and later Denny Nagle (at that time an all star young pitcher) in addition to BARRY BONDS. I don’t care what time of year it is that is a dump that doesn’t compare to Kaz. Strangely enough Bonilla was also dumped by the Marlins after he helped them win the World Series.

          • Paul, I’m sorry you can’t see my point. But, I’m talking about the “timing” of the whole thing. Bobby Bonilla was signed as a *free agent* by the Mets. That’s not my definition of “dumped.” As for Neagle, that Pirates team wasn’t contending for anything.

            My major beef with this move is doing while the team is still in contention. Keep looking for an example of a small market team that became a seller like this. It sets a bad precedent. From here on out, you can assume that if the Rays aren’t in 1st by the All-Star break it’s sell, sell, sell. And you can hem and haw all you want about the Rays not getting anything in the off season, but we don’t know that and neither does management. The fact is: They were the ones that signed this contract. Where was the small market mentality then? Or does it only fit when it’s convenient to dump salary. And don’t be too surprised if I’m not writing all off season about more of these salary dumps.

            At least the Marlins had the decency to wait until *after* they won a World Series before dumping.

  5. Rome says:

    The Rays are STILL in the playoff hunt. Scott did real well for us for the last, what? Five years. He was a pleasure to watch when this team was horrid. Imagine how many wins Scott would have had if we had a bullpen in ’05 and ’06.

    Scott, thanks for treating the bay area very well. You were a great guy to the fans through the years.

    Now, Lets be real. Scott didn’t exactly go deep into ball games. He threw a lot of pitches and made a lot of complaints. We have an opportunity to still win a wild card and we can hopefully fill the rotation spot w/ someone who will not tire the 40-man infused bullpen. We got two, maybe three minor leaguers that could pan-out well. Through these moves we could move other guys in the system to get a sure catcher or what not.

    I am not sold on Sweeny. He smells like a Royster Jr. to me. The pitcher looks well, but let’s see how does in Montgomery.

    I wish the best to all the new Rays and of course to Scott. Good luck and go Rays!

  6. Don says:

    Maddon should have been in politics….he always has a “build them up/optimistic answer” to all the questions for information!
    PTBNL…..”A very interesting player that I’m excited about”….WHAT??
    With out even knowing who it is I’ll tell you its a 3rd line player who will never make an impact on the Rays team…..Book IT!

  7. Amanda says:

    Cork, I think I’m 100 percent down with your last paragraph. I really like the way the team conceptualizes player moves. With Aki returning, that fits into their ideas of “it’s almost like we aquired someone.” I also like brining Wade Davis up to work with Zaun. He will benefit greatly for having a month (hopefully more) under his belt working with a veteran catcher.

    As much as I like the way they plan out player moves, I wish they’d be quicker on the uptake with the on-field moves. If Bartlett was moved into the leadoff spot a month earlier, would that have equated to three more wins? Four more wins? We’ll never know for sure.

    I’m not going to call this one a pure salary dump. But you’re right to say that this was really bad timing for a team trying to build a fan base. And perception IS reality.

  8. Nate says:

    Still reading your post, but if you are looking for a rookie callup that helped a team make the post season off the top of my head I can tell you that Dontrelle Willis fits that description. But he wasn’t a September callup (called up in May). The Rays have more depth at pitching than the 03 Marlins. I think if they had more arms available the Marlins would have preferred leaving willis in the minors, but it worked out for them

  9. John says:

    “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?”

    Marty Bystrom, 21 year-old rookie for the 1980 Phillies. Six starts, 5-0, 1.50 ERA, 1 shutout. Of course, he amounted to zero after that glorious September, but he was quite good for a month and helped the Phils to their only WS title.

    Other than him, I got nothing.

  10. Paul Wiezorek says:

    Trying to think of a historical equivalent of a starting pitcher call up is useless. The point is Kaz starting once every five games for the final 30 some games or another pitcher starting those same games probably will have a minimal impact on our playoff chances. Even if everything fell into place and the Red Sox choked. As much as I hate to say it, the Yankees or Angels will be the AL champs this year.
    And for arguments sake, though not a starter that only plays once every 5 games, David Price’s call up late last year meant something.

  11. GatorRaysHead says:

    Kaz has been my favorite player for a long time. He is the second greatest Devil Ray ever. He will be missed. I really wish we didnt do this.

  12. Cougar Bait says:

    According to an Angel’s blog, Jordan Walden is the PTBNL.

  13. JustWondering says:

    Can anybody tell me how this trade was made? I thought you couldn’t make trades after July 31 unless the player first went through waivers. Did Kazmir go through waivers?

    • Yes, Kazmir was put through waivers. He did not clear waivers. He was claimed by the Angels. Other teams may have claimed him too, but AL teams have dibs on AL players. And then it goes by record. So the Angels were the team with the worst record in the AL to claim Kaz.

      Once the Angels claimed Kazmir. The Rays had three choices.

      1) just pull him back. no harm, no foul. Angels dont get him. No trade is made. But the Rays cant send Kazmir through waivers again if they choose 1

      2) Just give him to the Angels for $25K

      3) Work out a trade. But the Angels are the only team they can trade him to.

      Rays took option 3.

  14. Rich says:

    Hey I am an Angels fan. I just wanted to say in response the issue you brought up in the article as to what September call-up has made an impact as a rookie. Francisco Rodriguez was instrumental in the Angels winning the World Series in 2002 and he was a September call-up.

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