Trade Bait: Scott Kazmir to the Angels

In a relatively stunning move, the Tampa Bay Rays have shipped out once ace pitcher Scott Kazmir to the L.A. Angels for three prospects.  Pitcher Alexander Torres, infielder Matt Sweeney, and a player to be named later will be going to the Rays.

Kazmir has been the ace of the Rays’ pitching staff for the past few seasons.  He’s the team’s all-time leader in wins (55), innings pitched (834), starts (144) and strikeouts (874).  But he’s had a bad season, putting up a 5.92 ERA in 111 IP.  Elbow inflammation/strain woes got him off to a slow start and he was slow to rebound.  He has had a better a second half so far as he’s put up a 4-2 record with a 4.22 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP.

In May I discussed a Dave Cameron article (FanGraphs.com) where he said that Kazmir is “busted”.  Dave gave pretty good evidence that it is not just this year that Kazmir has seen a decline, it’s a multi-season dive that has really gotten bad this season.  Is he an ace?  No.  Can he even be a number two?  Maybe, if the injury bug doesn’t come back and his once great stuff gets a little better.  But his recent injuries tell me there’s more wrong with him than we know.

Alexander Torres is the top prospect traded.  He’s pitched a combined 147.1 IP between Single-A and Double-A, culminating in a 13-4 with a 2.75 ERA.  The lefty has a 91-93 mph fastball with some good sinking action.  Torres has a good curve that needs to be more consistent and he’s working on a change-up.  Due to his size (5′-10″), some think he’ll be a lefty setup reliever in time as it isn’t believe that his shorter stature will be able to hold up to 200 IP in the majors.  John Sickels ranked him as their 14th best prospect going into the season.  He’s likely moved up a couple notches with his performance and others falling out.

Matt Sweeney is a third baseman that has fought through injury issues to become a two-time minor league All-Star.  He’s had a chipped bone in his hip this season and lost all of last season to an ankle injury.  But his offensive ability glows when he’s on the field.  Matt is hitting .299/.379/.517 with 9 home runs in 211 High-A at-bats this season.  Although his defense is improving at third, there’s a guy named Longoria locked up at the hot corner in Tampa for a while.  A move to first base or the outfield may come in time.

We’ll try to update this with the PTBNL when he is named.

Although Kazmir had great stuff when he was healthy, I just don’t think he’s fully healthy anymore and he’s not living up to the long-term contract he signed with the Rays.  The Rays dump his salary onto a team that can take the gamble and are now able to spend the money to lock up some of their other players.  Kazmir won’t be missed that much as Matt Garza has come into his own this season, James Shields is solid as always, Jeff Niemann has pitched surprisingly well in his rookie season, and David Price has the stuff to be start being relatively impressive, relatively soon.  The system is also stocked with talent like Wade Davis, Jeremy Hellickson, Nick Barnese, etc, etc, etc.

If Kazmir continues to pitch like he has in the second half of this season, the Angels have added another strong starter to their rotation, readying themselves for the playoffs.  But he could also blow up again, if not this season, soon.

Although Kazmir is a big name, I like this trade better for the Rays as they dumped approximately $20 million worth of salary from trading a player that may not have an ERA below 4.00 again.  They now have more financial flexibility and have added a couple somewhat decent prospects.

UPDATE: The PTBNL is infielder Sean Rodriguez.  So much for the insignificant PTBNL typically traded in these deals.  This definately pulls the trade in Tampa’s favor, but it likely spells the end of Akinori Iwamura’s time with the Rays.

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One Response to “Trade Bait: Scott Kazmir to the Angels”

  1. The Baseball Opinion » Blog Archive » Over Spilled Milk: 2006 Draft – AL West Says:

    [...] Matthew Sweeney was selected in the 8th round. After posting an .896 OPS in High-A ball, he was included in a trade for Scott Kazmir.  But he hasn’t hit much [...]

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