The Dodgers are shopping Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy and others, ESPN’s Buster Olney reports (Twitter link). Roster flexibility is one factor in these trade explorations, as Los Angeles currently has 39 players on its 40-man roster. Rich Hill could fill that last open spot, as the Dodgers are reportedly close to a deal to re-sign the veteran lefty, though the team would need more room to make further acquisitions.
Dealing the likes of Kazmir or McCarthy obviously carries more import than simply clearing roster space, as a glimpse at the Dodgers roster reveals several major league and minor league names on the 40-man that could reasonably be designated for assignment. Moving either veteran starter would be significant for the team’s 2017 rotation plans and potentially payroll, though it is quite possible L.A. would have to eat some money to facilitate a trade, especially with McCarthy.
After missing almost all of 2015 and most of 2016 recovering from Tommy John surgery, McCarthy managed 10 games (nine of them starts) for the Dodgers, though he also spent time on the DL with a hip injury. Since signing a four-year, $48MM deal with the Dodgers in December 2014, McCarthy has pitched just 63 innings of 5.29 ERA baseball for the club, and he is still owed $10MM in each of the next two seasons. The starter-thin market this winter could generate some interest in McCarthy’s services if other teams believe he is healthy, though that could be a tall order, given the righty’s lengthy list of injuries both in recent years and throughout his career.
Kazmir also has a pretty checkered injury history and dealt with another DL trip in 2016 due to thoracic spine inflammation. The lefty made just one outing after August 22, as his season was essentially ended by the injury. Kazmir threw 136 1/3 innings in his first season as a Dodger, posting a 4.56 ERA, 2.58 K/BB and 8.8 K/9 and his highest BB/9 and HR/9 totals since 2010. It was probably a combination of these only-decent numbers and his season-ending DL stint that led Kazmir to not opt out of his contract, so he is still owed $32MM over the next two years.
With Clayton Kershaw, Kenta Maeda and Julio Urias penciled into the rotation, Kazmir and McCarthy project to fill the other two spots (with Hill either replacing one altogether or moving one to the bullpen). Alex Wood, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Jose De Leon and Ross Stripling some of the other arms available as potential rotation depth, which is very necessary given the incredible number of pitching injuries the Dodgers faced last year.