Here’s how far Scott Kazmir’s star has fallen: Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the two-time All-Star–who’s still just 29 years old–has agreed to a deal with the independent league Sugarland Skeeters.
Apparently they play in Houston, which is where Kazmir is from.
Kazmir was released by the Angels in June of last year and has thrown for scouts several times since then while also pitching winter ball in the Dominican Republic, but no team has taken a flier on the formerly dominant left-hander.
His last effective season was in 2008 for the Rays when he threw 152 innings with a 3.49 ERA and 166 strikeouts. Since then Kazmir has a 5.54 ERA and just 6.3 strikeouts per nine innings in 55 starts and the most recent reports had him throwing in the high-80s.
In an age in which even baseball’s richest teams talk about tight budgets and keeping payroll low, it’s pretty rare to hear anyone connected with a front office talking about freely spending money. Phillies owner John Middleton, however, offered up something rare about the team’s approach to free agency.
“We’re going into this expecting to spend money, and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it,” he told Bob Nightengale or USA Today. He then added, “we just prefer not to be completely stupid.” That save aside, it was a pretty unusual sentiment these days.
“Stupid” could certainly mean Bryce Harper, who the Phillies have long been expected to pursue. It could even mean Harper and Manny Machado. Why not? At the moment the Phillies’ payroll for 2019 is looking to be just a shade above $100 million, so even adding, say, $70 million to that would not put them in an unreasonable position compared to other competitors. And that’s before you figure in any sort of back-loading or deferred money that Harper and/or Machado might agree to.
Or, even if they didn’t get one or both of those guys, they could spend that same kind of money on multiple free agents. Patrick Corbin? Marwin Gonzalez? A handful of others? We counted down the top 100 free agents last week and any number of them could be acquired given the sort of payroll flexibility a large market team like the Phillies appear to have. It merely requires the will to do it. A will which, it seems, John Middleton possesses.