After weeks of rumors swirling around the Dodgers’ plan to address their depleted pitching staff after Zack Greinke departed for Arizona and deals for Aroldis Chapman and Hisashi Iwakuma fell through, the baseball world finally got its (at least partial) answer on Wednesday: free agent lefty starter Scott Kazmir.
The Dodgers today announced the signing of left-handed pitcher Scott Kazmir to a three-year contract. (1/2)
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) December 30, 2015
kazmir breakdown: 16M in ’16, 16M in ’17, 16M in ’18. 48M total, with player opt out after 1. #dodgers
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 30, 2015
Kazmir spent last season with the Oakland A’s and Houston Astros, making 29 starts with a 3.10 ERA, 3.98 FIP, and 2.4 fWAR. The lefty has had an interesting journey throughout his decade-long MLB career. He debuted with the then-Devil Rays in 2004 and became one of Tampa Bay’s best pitchers over the next four seasons, posting a 127 ERA+ between 2005 and 2008. His decline started when he was traded to the Angels in 2009; Kazmir had a 4.89 ERA that year and followed it up with a 5.84 ERA the following season. He only made one start in 2011 before shoulder trouble caught up with him, and didn’t throw another pitch at the major league level until the Cleveland Indians took a chance on him in 2013. It is worth noting that with all of the injury trouble that plagued Kazmir over the years, he never actually had arm surgery.
Over the past three seasons with the Indian’s, A’s, and Astros, Kazmir has become one of baseball’s unlikeliest comeback stories with a very respectable 3.54 ERA, 3.61 FIP, 1.22 WHIP, and 8.3 fWAR from 2013 through 2015. He also has ties to current Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Freidman from his time in Tampa, as well as current general manager Farhan Ziadi from his time in Oakland. Kazmir should project nicely in spacious Dodger Stadium. His ERA rose substantially after leaving pitcher-friendly Oakland for hitter-friendly Houston.
Kazmir’s signing has sparked a lot of speculation as to whether the Dodgers will enter the 2016 season with a rotation of five left-handers, as Kazmir joins Clayton Kershaw, Brett Anderson, Hyun-jin Ryu, and Alex Wood on the Dodgers staff. It’s worth noting, however, that Kazmir actually has reverse platoon splits, meaning he pitches better against right-handed batters instead of fellow lefties. In 2015 he held righties to a .219/.299/.343 slash line while lefties slashed .275/.317/.466 off him. It’s also fair to wonder whether Dodgers have any more moves up their sleeve.