Over the weekend, the Royals and A’s were among the clubs linked to free-agent lefty Scott Kazmir, and this morning, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale calls those two teams, along with the Orioles, Cardinals, Nationals and Astros the finalists for Kazmir (links to Twitter). That’s a fairly lengthy list of finalists, of course, and with so many clubs in the mix, it’s not entirely surprising to see Nightengale add that no deal is imminent.
On Friday, it was reported that Kazmir has received multiple three-year offers in the range of $12-13MM per season. With a number of comparable offers of that nature already in hand, Kazmir may very well be holding out for a fourth guaranteed season or, at least, a notable increase in average annual value. Of the listed clubs, only Oakland has added arms to its rotation picture this offseason (Rich Hill and, reportedly, Henderson Alvarez, though his deal has yet to be announced by the club). The Royals struck a deal to retain right-hander Chris Young but haven’t penciled in a replacement for the departed Johnny Cueto just yet. The Astros have been more focused on their bullpen and parted with a significant package to pry Ken Giles away from the Phillies. The Cardinals made a significant run at David Price but ultimately came up short, while Baltimore’s focus has been on Chris Davis. The Nationals have pursued both Jason Heyward and Mike Leake this winter — the former more aggressively than the latter — but didn’t sign either (Leake remains a free agent) and have lost Jordan Zimmermann to the Tigers. Any of the involved parties stands out as a reasonable fit for Kazmir, though from a financial standpoint, if one club is to separate itself from the others, the Athletics and Royals seem less likely to do so than their reported competitors for Kazmir, if history is any indication.
Kazmir, 32 in a month, recorded a 3.33 ERA with 7.7 K/9 against 2.6 BB/9 and a 43.4 percent ground-ball rate from 2014-15 — the duration of a two-year, $22MM contract initially signed with Oakland. A fourth guaranteed season for him could understandably be cause for hesitation among interested clubs, as he comes with quite a lengthy injury history and has wilted somewhat late in each of the past two seasons. However, he’s also a more affordable alternative to five-year hopefuls Wei-Yin Chen and Mike Leake. And, unlike some of his competition (Chen, Yovani Gallardo, Ian Kennedy), Kazmir won’t require a signing club to forfeit a draft pick.