Tonight the Rays face Scott Kazmir for just the second time since he was traded to the Angels for Sean Rodriguez and two prospects. This Saturday is the one year anniversary of that deal, a move that was made even though the Rays were just 3.5 games out in the Wild Card race. And even though Kazmir was coming off his three best starts of the season, the Rays decided to dump Kazmir and the more than $20 million remaining on his contract.
Some saw the trade as a smart move. Others saw it as waiving the white flag. We just thought it looked bad for a team trying desperately to build a fanbase.
But was the chance to rid themselves of an expensive contract and add depth to the farm system the only reason for the trade? Maybe not.
According to two sources close to the Rays, the biggest reason for trading Kazmir was his negative influence on David Price. At the time, Price was struggling through a rookie campaign in which he would finish 10-7 with a 4.42 ERA.
According to our sources, it was accepted among those close to the Rays that prior to the 2009 season, Kazmir liked to partake in illegal recreational activities with his good friend Edwin Jackson. It is unclear if this played a factor in Jackson being traded prior to the 2009 season. We will let you draw your own conclusions on that one.
More importantly, when Kazmir and Price became friends during the 2009 season, the Rays apparently grew concerned.
None of our sources ever saw Kazmir and Price do anything illegal. But it is well-accepted among those close to the Rays that the front office was very concerned about Kazmir’s influence on Price. And that this was THE major factor in the decision to trade Kazmir. And it may have also been a factor in when the Rays decided to pull the trigger. The feeling was that the Rays needed to trade Kazmir as soon as possible to get him away from Price.
And how has the move worked? This season, Kazmir is 8-10 with a 6.40 ERA. Meanwhile, Price has transformed into a Cy Young Award candidate by going 15-5 with a 2.97 ERA.
If Price’s emergence this season can be attributed to the departure of Kazmir, then it doesn’t take 20-20 hindsight to realize the Rays made the right move.
When we contacted the Rays about this story, they refused comment.