Scott Kazmir declined to opt out of his contract with the Dodgers and now just has a two-year contract with the team in which he makes $8 million a year for the next five years ($40 million). While there was more reason (and hope) that he would opt-out given this free-agent class of starting pitching in 2017, ultimately Kazmir decided he likely wasn’t going to get more money from another team.
While Kazmir was one of the most frustrating pitchers on the roster in 2016, he probably wasn’t as terrible as we remembered. Granted, I was among those who constantly complained about his outings, but he did manage to stay healthy during the times when the Dodgers needed innings. In the end, he threw 136.1 innings in 2016, and posted thoroughly mediocre numbers of a 4.56 ERA and 4.48 FIP.
The stuff was still there at least, as he struck out his highest percentage of batters since 2013 (22.7%) and his second-highest since 2008. However, the command wavered, as he walked the most batters he faced since 2011 (8.8%) and gave up an ugly total of 21 homers (1.39 HR/9). In the end, it shook out to a 0.9 RA9 WAR or a 1.3 FIP WAR, and he performed like a pitcher making ~$8 million instead of the $16 million guy they were expecting.
Given that, it’s difficult to argue with his (or his agent’s) judgment to stay with the team, because while the market was weak, it was a long shot that he’d get more money than the contract he had with the Dodgers.
So what now, right? Given that he might not even have a place in the rotation, this situation could get even uglier than it was last year real fast. The Dodgers just have to hope that he comes into Spring Training healthy in 2017 and that he shows more of the ~3 WAR pitcher/mid-rotation pitcher he was in the two years previous and less of the pitcher who looked like he was close to being done.
Or they could end up eating money and trading him due to the aforementioned unappealing options in free agency.
Scott Kazmir did not opt out of final 2 yrs/$32M on #Dodgers deal (deadline was yest). With bad fr agt SP mkt may draw trade interest
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) November 7, 2016
That’s probably the best option for both parties at this point, and I think eventually that’s what ends up happening. As far as return goes? I, uh, would advise having no expectations.