Tag: Scott Kazmir

Scott Kazmir

Houston is going for it: Astros acquire left-hander Scott Kazmir from A’s


Houston just made the first big splash of trade deadline season, acquiring left-hander Scott Kazmir from Oakland to bolster the rotation in exchange for minor leaguers Jake Nottingham and Dan Mengden.

Kazmir went from 22-year-old All-Star and Rays phenom to totally out of the big leagues in 2012, but resurrected his career with the Indians in 2013 and has been brilliant for the A’s since signing a two-year, $22 million deal as a free agent last offseason. Kazmir posted a 3.12 ERA in 50 total starts for Oakland, including a 2.38 ERA and 101/35 K/BB ratio in 110 innings this season with a big payday via free agency waiting around the corner.

He’s a legit top-of-the-rotation starter and now pairs with Astros ace Dallas Keuchel, who was arguably the AL’s best pitcher in the first half. Houston is pushing some of their chips into the middle of the table after going from rebuilding to contending much more quickly than expected, starting the season 53-43 after losing 92, 111, 107, and 106 games during the past four years. They have tons of young talent headlined by rookie shortstop Carlos Correa, the Astros lead the league in homers and are third in runs scored, and now they have a pair of excellent southpaws atop the rotation. General manager Jeff Luhnow and company are going for it.

Neither minor leaguer the A’s received for Kazmir is considered a top prospect, but that’s to be expected given his impending free agency in two months. Nottingham was a 2013 sixth-round pick who struggled in his first two pro seasons, but the 20-year-old catcher/first baseman has hit .326 with 14 homers and a .941 OPS in 76 games at Single-A this year. Mengden was a 2014 fourth-round pick who’s pitched well at Single-A this season as a 22-year-old, throwing 88 innings with a 3.46 ERA and 84/26 K/BB ratio.

Next up for the A’s: Trading fellow impending free agent Tyler Clippard and Ben Zobrist.

Mets, A’s “discussing pieces” for Ben Zobrist trade

ben zobrist getty

Via Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News

The Mets have gotten as far as discussing pieces with the A’s for a possible deal for Ben Zobrist, a source told the News Tuesday afternoon.

The A’s have identified the prospects they would need to send the veteran utility man to New York, but nothing is imminent, the source said.

Zobrist is also reportedly drawing interest from the Yankees, Giants, and Nationals, but the Mets are said to be willing to overpay to get him from the A’s because how desperate they are for an upgrade on offense. Zobrist is capable of playing just about anywhere on the diamond defensively, which makes him a fit for any and every contending team.

The versatile 34-year-old has a .768 OPS (114 OPS+) in 61 games this season for the A’s, who stand just 43-51 and should be one of the more active sellers ahead of the July 31 trade deadline. Scott Kazmir, Josh Reddick, and Eric O’Flaherty are some of the other Oakland players who could be on the move.

Report: Blue Jays have “strong interest” in Brewers right-hander Mike Fiers

MILWAUKEE, WI - JULY 17: Mike Fiers #50 of the Milwaukee Brewers pitches during the first inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Miller Park on July 17, 2015 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)

It’s no secret that the Blue Jays plan to target starting pitching in advance of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. We all know about some of the big names like Johnny Cueto, Cole Hamels, Jeff Samardzija, and Scott Kazmir who are expected to be available, but here’s an under-the-radar possibility:

As opposed to Cueto, Samardzija, and Kazmir, this wouldn’t be a rental situation. Fiers is currently making the major league minimum and won’t even be arbitration-eligible for the first time until after next season. As such, Rosenthal writes that the Brewers would require multiple pieces in return.

After posting a 2.13 ERA over 10 starts and four relief appearances in 2014, the 30-year-old Fiers has a 3.79 ERA and 106/40 K/BB ratio in 107 innings this season.

Attention shoppers! Hamels, Cueto, Shields, Samardzija, Price headline rotation trade targets

Cole Hamels

Now that the All-Star game is over the next big date to circle on the baseball calendar is the July 31 trade deadline.

These next three weeks should be very interesting, particularly on the pitching side, because there’s no shortage of contending teams in search of front-line rotation help and no shortage of available high-end starters of all shapes, sizes, and contract lengths.

Here’s my view of big-name starters likely to generate big-time trade interest between now and July 31 …

LHP Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies

Cole Hamels is not a typical trade deadline target in that he’s still just 31 years old and under contract through 2019 at what is basically the going rate for a top-of-the-rotation starter, but the Phillies are so bad that rumors have swirled around him for a long time now.

Hamels’ win-loss records have suffered from terrible lineup and bullpen support, but don’t let that fool you into thinking he’s anything but a No. 1 starter. He has a 3.29 career ERA–including a 2.88 ERA since the beginning of last season–and he’s basically never been hurt while averaging 32 starts and 212 innings per season since 2008. He finished the first half with an awful start versus the Giants, but Hamels had a 3.02 ERA before that outing and is striking out a career-high 9.5 batters per nine innings this year.

The question with Hamels is how much value he has beyond the 3.5 years and $80 million remaining on his contract. As a free agent he’d get more than that on the open market, so what are teams willing to trade for the right to acquire Hamels at market-value annual salaries for a shorter commitment than they’d have to make via free agency? He’s not just a second-half pickup. Hamels would anchor a rotation for three-and-a-half seasons and that’s nearly impossible to acquire via free agency without making a $100 million-plus commitment.

RHP Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati Reds

Johnny Cueto is an even better No. 1 starter than Hamels–posting a sub-3.00 ERA in five straight seasons and finishing runner-up in last year’s Cy Young voting–but he’s also a more typical trade deadline target in that he’s an impending free agent. If a team acquires Hamels they’re getting him for 100 or more starts from now until 2018 or 2019, but the Reds are basically just shopping Cueto’s next 15 starts. That has big value, of course, especially to a team with clear playoff aspirations that can get more starts out of him in October.

Cincinnati has the option of simply letting Cueto make those 15 starts for them and then walk as a free agent, at which point they’d receive a first-round draft pick as compensation. No one seems to think that scenario is likely, but it does mean any trade offer for Cueto must be superior to a first-round pick. And a team that trades for him would not be eligible for the same compensation. Cueto is better than Hamels, but is 15 starts of Cueto for $5 million more valuable than 100-plus starts of Hamels for $80 million? My guess is teams are split on the right answer, which should make for an interesting comparison of hauls if they’re both traded.

RHP James Shields, San Diego Padres

Here’s a clear case of buyer’s remorse. San Diego had huge plans for a headline-grabbing offseason and on-the-fly rebuild, with signing James Shields to a four-year, $75 million deal playing a major part in that. But now the Padres are 41-49 and Shields has a 4.01 ERA that’s his worst since 2010 despite calling pitcher-friendly Petco Park home.

There are some potential red flags within Shields’ performance at age 33. His velocity is down a bit, his walk rate is way up, he’s served up 19 homers in 19 starts, and his numbers away from Petco Park are ugly. On the other hand he’s also striking out a career-high 10.1 per nine innings. Shields is under contract for $21 million in each of the next three seasons, which is nearly the same as Hamels’ contract and that tells you why the Padres may have trouble moving him for any real value.

LHP David Price, Detroit Tigers

David Price is a potential trade deadline wild card. Detroit is 41-41 and won’t have Miguel Cabrera is the lineup for a while. Price is an impending free agent likely in line for a $150 million-plus deal on the open market. It would be a similar situation to Cueto in Cincinnati, except the Tigers seemingly have no plans for a rebuild and at the very least still have a reasonable shot to make the playoffs. Price is an elite starter and may even rank higher than Cueto to a lot of teams, but the Tigers value his remaining 15 starts much higher than the Reds value Cueto’s and may even have some hope of keeping him around beyond this season.

RHP Jeff Samardzija, Chicago White Sox

Jeff Samardzija is an impending free agent and the White Sox’s on-the-fly rebuild hasn’t gone much better than the Padres’ overhaul. Samardzija isn’t on the same level as Hamels, Cueto, or Price, but it wouldn’t be surprising if plenty of teams prefer him to Shields (and Shields’ remaining contract). After a poor start Samardzija headed into the All-Star break with a 2.40 ERA and 39/8 K/BB ratio in his last 45 innings and he’s gone at least seven innings in 11 of 13 starts since May 1.

LHP Scott Kazmir, Oakland A’s

Another impending free agent, Scott Kazmir has a 3.18 ERA in 49 starts for the A’s since signing a two-year, $22 million deal last offseason. Leaving his final start of the first half with triceps soreness is a worry, but Kazmir is expected to be fine and with the A’s at 41-50 the 31-year-old left-hander figures to be available.

RHP Mike Leake, Cincinnati Reds

Cincinnati’s other free agent-to-be starter, Mike Leake lacks the upside of Cueto and the other names on this list. However, he’s also younger than everyone else at 27 and has a 3.94 ERA in 1,006 career innings with similar numbers this season. Leake isn’t someone contending teams would want to headline their playoff rotation, but he’s a solid, innings-eating mid-rotation option.

Mets, Yankees, Giants, Nationals interested in Ben Zobrist

ben zobrist getty

Via Nick Cafardo’s Sunday notes in the Boston Globe …

Ben Zobrist, OF-INF, Athletics — Despite not having the best of years, Zobrist remains sought-after, including by the Mets, Yankees, Giants, and Nationals. Zobrist, 34, has played three positions this season — 25 games in left field, 25 at second base, and three in right field. Zobrist has played only four career games at third base but could play there if needed.

That defensive versatility is what makes Zobrist a fit for just about any contending team. The 34-year-old has posted a respectable .771 OPS (115 OPS+) with five home runs and 31 RBI in 57 games this season for the A’s, who entered play Sunday with a disappointing 40-50 record. They will probably be one of the most active sellers ahead of the July 31 trade deadline. Scott Kazmir, Josh Reddick, and Eric O’Flaherty are among the other Oakland players who could be on the move.