Dodgers sign Scott Kazmir to 3-year deal

And you thought the rest of the year was going to be quiet. The Dodgers on Wednesday signed left-handed pitcher Scott Kazmir to a 3-year deal, announced by the team. To make room for him on the 40-man roster, the Dodgers designated outfielder Daniel Fields for assignment. We hardly knew ye.

The terms are interesting.

Now, $16 million per season is nothing to scoff at, but the opt-out after the first season allows Kazmir to get back on the market next season if he has a good-to-great 2016 campaign. Next year’s starting pitcher market is abysmal, so Kazmir and Brett Anderson could cash in if they have good 2016s. The Dodgers could potentially net two draft picks if both Kazmir and Anderson are given, and decline, the qualifying offer. If Kazmir doesn’t opt-out, he’ll take his $32 million for the following two seasons and be happy.

It’s hard to go into a lot of detail here about Kazmir, seeing as I did it just yesterday. Here’s a few of excerpts.

“So here we are on Dec. 29, and Kazmir is still unsigned. A handful of teams have expressed interest in him, including the Dodgers. Despite a left-handed-heavy projected rotation (Clayton Kershaw, Alex Wood, Brett Anderson, Hyun-jin Ryu), Kazmir’s addition to the team would be welcome.

Aside from Kershaw, no Dodger starting pitcher is projected to have a wins above replacement of more than 2.7 (Anderson). Ryu is projected at 2.4 and Wood at 1.9. There’s no telling what Ryu is going to do in 2016. If he can get back to his 2013-14 levels of production, the incessant offseason hand-wringing about not having a No. 2 starter will have been for naught. That’s a big if, though.”

… and

“And if you’re worried about having too many lefties in the rotation, Kazmir has actually posted reverse platoon splits the last two seasons.

  • 2014: .227/.280/.360, .285 wOBA (league-average is .320)
  • 2015: .225/.301/.344, .285 wOBA

In his first season back (2013), he was better against lefties (.226/.251/.321) than righties (.275/.339/.455), but he has shown an ability to be effective against right-handed hitters recently.

Kershaw can get any hitter out, so his splits are moot. Anderson had a higher slugging percentage allowed to righties (thanks to 17 home runs) in 2015, but had a better batting average an on-base percentage against against righties. Even Ryu has been more successful against righties (.247/.290/.353) in his career than lefties (.276/.317/.390). Wood is the pitcher who had the traditional platoon splits — .223/.243/.274 against lefties, .292/.359/.429 against righties — in 2015.”

… and

Pitcher A
169 IP, 3.77 ERA, 3.80 FIP, 21.0 K%, 6.9 BB%, 2.5 WAR

Pitcher B
207 IP, 3.18 ERA, 3.44 FIP, 21.0 K%, 5.9 BB%, 3.1 WAR

The statlines above are 2016 Steamer projections. Pitcher A is Kazmir, Pitcher B is Johnny Cueto. Cueto signed for 6 years and $130 million (with an opt-out after two years). Is Cueto at $23 million a year for two years (with the risk of him getting hurt and/or underperforming and not opting out) better than Kazmir at $15-18 million for two years (if he accepts)? The innings pitched are the biggest difference — and it does matter — but the rate stats are pretty close. It isn’t as absurd a question as it may appear on the surface.

And let’s face it: Someone is going to get hurt and/or be ineffective. When that time comes, Brandon McCarthy could be there to pick up the slack. He’d also give the Dodgers’ rotation a different look from the right side. If a pitcher is needed before McCarthy is ready, there is always Mike Bolsinger, Carlos Frias, Zach Lee (stop laughing, Mike), and yet-to-debut pitchers in Jharel Cotton and Jose De Leon.”

… finally

“Kazmir seems likely a worthwhile gamble, and there could still be a trade. Wood could easily be moved in a deal for another pitcher, a bat, prospects, etc. That could clear up some of the left-handedness of the rotation. I’m of the opinion as long as a pitcher can get hitters out, I don’t really care with which arm he throws.”

One day later, that all still applies. There’s minimal risk on both sides in the deal, and it seems to be for about market value. The one thing to wonder is if Wood will be on the move in another deal. He’s the most traded non-Kershaw starting pitcher the Dodgers have, and they could look to strengthen the bullpen, land a bat or bolster the farm system even more by moving him. We’ll see what happens.

About Dustin Nosler

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Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosted a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He was a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times and True Blue LA. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.