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A’s Sign Scott Kazmir, Colon Unlikely to Be Re-Upped

December 2, 2013

The A’s have made what is likely their big offseason signing for the 2013-14 offseason when they agreed to a two-year $22M deal with lefty Scott Kazmir previously of the Cleveland Indians. Kazmir was of course once a very highly heralded prospect and pitched well early in his career with the Tampa Bay Rays, then a loss of velocity saw some scary results before he resurrected his career last year in Cleveland. In comparison to some of the other contracts being handed out, this deal doesn’t seem terrible, but given that the A’s were beaten by their cross bay rival Giants by just one-million to sign Tim Hudson this deal seems a little less fortunate.

This deal will entirely hinge on which Kazmir the A’s get. Do they get the 2013 Kazmir who pitched 158 innings across 29 starts for a 4.04 ERA, 3.51 FIP and 2.5 WAR backed by 9.2 K/9, 2.7 BB/9 and 1.1 HR/9? Or do they get the 2010 and 2011 Kazmir who for the Angels combined to earn -1.3 WAR care of reduced velocity and a mere 5.5 K/9, 4.8 BB/9 and 1.5 HR/9 adding to a 6.17 ERA and 5.96 FIP in an equal 29 starts across 151 2/3 innings? While Hudson likely represented a degree of risk given his age and recent injury, Kazmir represents risk in that he has been all over the place All Star in 2006 and 2008 to not pitching anywhere in 2012. For his career Kazmir has thrown to a 4.16 ERA (4.06 FIP) with 8.8 K/9, 4.0 BB/9 and 1.0 HR/9 so if he stays near equal the A’s should get good value from the deal. However as noted Kazmir has been either a meteoric star or crash-burn failure. Today it was also announced that the A’s will be tendering a contract to Daric Barton which represents one-million that perhaps could’ve persuaded Hudson to choose the eastern side of the Bay as opposed to the West.

The other thing this deal represents is clearly the end of the A’s relationship with Bartolo Colon. While there could be a surprise in there, Colon’s camp obviously feels he can garner a multi-year deal and this move makes it seem like they must be asking for more than $11.5M a season. Kazmir will be turning 30, so if he is in fact “fixed” he is in his prime, whereas Colon’s advanced age brings up a few more concerns. While I had questioned Colon’s durability, he proved me wrong in his two years with the A’s, time and time again making a low-strikeout, pinpoint control pitch-to-contact method work. He will be missed.

Kazmir has the potential to be a signing akin to the deal that landed Brandon McCarthy. Whereas McCarthy “clicked” in Oakland, Kazmir “re-clicked” I suppose you could call it, in Cleveland. McCarthy wasn’t someone to count on for 30 starts a year but he was good when he was out there. Likewise, Kazmir has some durability concerns but if he can be good when out there the A’s depth can help them a great deal. The A’s now have seven starters for their starting rotation still, so it’d be interesting to see if they deal one (Brett Anderson the most likely candidate), or if they keep their depth (remember last year the Dodgers seemed to have way too many capable starters and yet ended up plucking from the Albuquerque Isotopes lineup numerous times throughout the summer). High upside deal that won’t sink a franchise, typical Billy Beane, no complaints here.

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