It’s early, but Dodgers starter Scott Kazmir hasn’t looked great in his first two starts of the spring. The lefty has yielded seven runs on 12 hits and two walks with three strikeouts over 3 2/3 innings of work. Even worse, his fastball has been sitting in the 86-89 MPH range, per Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. As Shaikin notes, the last time Kazmir threw his fastball so slow, the Angels cut him from the roster.
Neither Kazmir nor the Dodgers seem to be worried. Kazmir said, “My arm feels great.” He added that if he tries to throw too hard too early, his wind-up gets out of sorts.
The Dodgers are suffering from quite a few question marks in the starting rotation behind Clayton Kershaw. Brett Anderson is expected to miss 3-5 months after undergoing back surgery. Hyun-Jin Ryu, recovering from left shoulder surgery, could return some time in May. Frankie Montas had a rib removed in February and will miss most of the first half. Brandon McCarthy is recovering from Tommy John surgery and won’t even throw to hitters until May. Alex Wood was scratched from his last start due to forearm tightness.
It’s safe to say that Kazmir figuring things out sooner rather than later is pretty important for the Dodgers at the midpoint of spring training.
Bob Klapisch of The New York Times reports that free agent starter Gerrit Cole has a seven-year, $245 million contract offer on the table from the Yankees. As Klapisch also notes, the deal would set a record for total value and average annual value for a pitcher, besting Zack Greinke‘s $34.4 million AAV and David Price‘s $217 million total.
While it is possible that Cole signs before the end of the Winter Meetings on Thursday, clients of Scott Boras have tended to sign later in the offseason, so this may be a protracted process with today’s report as a jumping-off point. Both the Yankees’ and Angels’ front offices have received clearance from ownership to break the bank to sign Cole.
Cole, 29, could not have timed having a career year any better. During the regular season, he led all of baseball with 326 strikeouts and led the American League with a 2.50 ERA while also posting a 20-5 record and walking only 48 batters across 212 1/3 innings. He performed brilliantly in the playoffs as well, holding the opposition to seven runs on 21 hits and 11 walks with 47 strikeouts over 36 2/3 innings of work as the Astros narrowly missed out on winning another championship.
Cole is entering his age-29 season, so a deal of at least seven years would take him well into his mid-30’s. Teams, especially lately, have been hesitant to commit to pitchers, but as the Nationals showed with Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin, sometimes it leads to a championship.
For what it’s worth, Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports says the Yankees haven’t made a formal offer to Cole yet, though the club plans to make one this week. During this time of year, both sides — front office personnel and player agents — leak details to the press to help establish leverage. What we can generally take from this is that the Yankees are hot for Cole and he’s going to get a record-setting contract from some team, even if it’s not the Yankees.