Left-hander Scott Kazmir did not opt out of the two years and $32MM remaining on his contract with the Dodgers prior to Saturday’s deadline, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Barring a trade, the 32-year-old will stay with the Dodgers next season.
After a stint in the independent Atlantic League in 2012, the former elite prospect tossed 150-plus frames in each season from 2013-15 and recorded a 3.54 ERA, 8.15 K/9, 2.64 BB/9, 42.6 percent ground-ball rate and 9.7 percent home run-to-fly ball ratio in 667 2/3 innings. On the strength of that 92-start stretch, Kazmir agreed to a three-year, $48MM deal with Los Angeles last winter in a market that featured far more high-end pitching than this offseason’s class, so another quality campaign would have made him an obvious opt-out candidate. Instead, the three-time All-Star logged a 4.56 ERA – up from 3.10 in 2015 – over just 136 1/3 innings. Part of the problem for Kazmir was a 15 percent HR-FB ratio, by far the highest figure of his 11-year major league tenure. He also recorded a 3.43 BB/9, a notable decline from the control he showed in the previous three seasons, and threw just one inning after August (on Sept. 23) as he dealt with thoracic spine inflammation and spasms in his ribs and chest.
The 2016 season wasn’t a complete disaster for Kazmir, who posted an 8.85 K/9 and 14.3 percent infield fly rate – his best marks in those categories since 2013 and 2009, respectively – and yielded mostly soft contact. Given Kazmir’s somewhat strong track record and the dearth of of decent starters on this year’s market, it’s possible he could draw trade interest, as Sherman notes. It’s unknown if the Dodgers plan to shop Kazmir, but if they do, it would be a tall order to deal him without eating some portion of the money left on his contract.