The Orioles do not have a left-handed pitcher in their starting rotation. Scott Kazmir is a left-handed pitcher. The Orioles do not want to give up the #14 overall draft pick next year. Kazmir, traded midseason, would not have cost a draft pick to sign. In those two ways, there was no more perfect pitcher out there on the market for the O's, but you can forget about all of that. Kazmir signed with the Dodgers on Wednesday afternoon for a three year contract worth $48 million.
That's a bit of an eye-popping dollar amount on that contract given that Kazmir's projected contract on MLBTR at the beginning of the offseason was for four years and $52 million. Not much wonder that the O's were not the team to sign Kazmir given the contract he's gotten today. In an unexpected twist, the Kazmir contract has an opt out after only one season, according to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman. All the more reason he was never going to sign with the O's, who seem to eschew those sorts of opt outs.
That's a deal that could work out for both sides, however. If Kazmir pitches well enough that he wants to opt out after only one year, the Dodgers can probably slap a qualifying offer on him and collect a draft pick if he signs elsewhere. Kazmir could still have a robust market in one year's time when there isn't a strong free agent class, with no top-end starter like David Price or Zach Greinke out there. And hey, if Kazmir bombs in 2016, he gets $48 million guaranteed regardless. Who among us would turn up his or her nose at $48 million?
As of a week ago, the Dodgers weren't even being mentioned as a possible Kazmir destination. The Orioles were one of five clubs to have been described as finalists for Kazmir. The Dodgers were not one of those five.
This is why I always say about baseball rumors that probably nothing will happen. Rumors may be wrong, either because a source is intentionally misleading or because they just don't know what the heck they're talking about, or even if they're right, the ground can shift drastically before anything becomes fact. With Kazmir signing for three years and $48 million with an opt out, I think it's safe to say that the Orioles were never actually finalists on Kazmir.
Would you have wanted the Orioles to give this contract to Kazmir? I can't say that I would have. Kazmir has revived his career, but he's really hanging his hat on a 3.12 ERA in 50 starts with Oakland, a park that may have helped to mitigate his home run-prone problem. Camden Yards would not help with that at all. He could be a good signing for the Dodgers in a way that he might not have been able to be for the O's.
Maybe this is a fair representation of what a $16 million average annual value buys you, and if that's the case it just goes to show even more the importance of developing starting pitchers in the minor leagues. Too bad the Orioles keep trading all of them except for Kevin Gausman away. And in the meantime they have no Kazmir, or any kind of sure thing at all lined up for next year's rotation.