The move is somewhat curious on the surface. After pitching a scoreless inning today in a Grapefruit League game, Kazmir left the mound with what was described at the time as arm fatigue. The left-hander was slated to be the team’s fifth starter, which the Braves will need for at least the first month of the season as Luiz Gohara deals with a left ankle injury. It’s now unclear whom they’ll use in that role behind Julio Teheran, Mike Foltynewicz, Brandon McCarthy and Sean Newcomb. One option is the recently-signed Anibal Sanchez, who’s in camp on a minor league deal. Sanchez is indeed likely to fill the last spot in the Braves’ rotation, per O’Brien.
The 34-year-old Kazmir didn’t last long in Atlanta, which acquired him in an unusual, luxury tax-geared trade with the Dodgers in mid-December. Kazmir’s due $16MM in 2018, the last season of a three-year, $48MM deal he signed with the Dodgers entering 2016. The journeyman has disappointed since signing that deal, as he logged a 4.56 ERA/4.48 FIP in 136 1/3 innings in the first year of the contract before missing all of last season with a hip injury. A lack of durability has long been a problem for Kazmir, a 2002 first-round pick of the Mets who has endured an inconsistent career with several clubs since debuting with Tampa Bay in 2004.