Dodgers 2016 Player Review: Scott Kazmir
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The prize pitching addition (at the time) from last winter’s free agency class, Scott Kazmir completed the first of a three-year, $48 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Despite a poor season, that contract still looks acceptable given the dearth of starting pitching options and the short-term length.

Kazmir made 26 starts this season, second-most on the team, posted a 4.56 ERA and was good for 1.3 WAR. Unfortunately, in addition to his poor performance, Kazmir averaged less than 5.1 innings per start.

Statistically speaking, this was his worst season since spending all of 2012 out of baseball. The 32-year-old never managed to shake free from first-inning trouble (6.92 ERA), and eventually fell victim to the injury bug.

He was placed on the 15-day disabled list with neck inflammation in August and suffered a setback while on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Oklahoma City. Kazmir was then diagnosed with thoracic spine inflammation on Sept. 10.

The left-hander was reinstated from the disabled list 13 days later for a start against the Colorado Rockies that evening. However, Kazmir was removed after a scoreless first inning with right intercostal (muscles between ribs) spasms, and he never pitched again in 2016.

2016 Highlight

On July 2, Kazmir faced off against the Rockies and turned in arguably his best performance of the year — hurling six shutout innings while allowing just three hits (no walks) and striking out 10.

The Dodgers went on to win the game, 6-1, thanks in part to a two-run double from Trayce Thompson.

Another memorable moment for Kazmir came May 14 when he nearly turned in a complete game at home against the St. Louis Cardinals. A two-out, two-run home run in the ninth inning was enough to knock Kazmir out of the game, though Kenley Jansen converted the save in the Dodgers’ 5-3 victory.

2017 Outlook

With a weak free agency class this winter, some thought Kazmir might entertain the idea of opting out of his contract in hopes of securing something more long-term.

Despite the appeal, Kazmir stayed put, opting into the remaining two years and $32 million on his deal, leaving the Dodgers with yet another solid starter returning. Though, it was recently reported Kazmir and the Dodgers are mutually open to a potential trade.

As it stands, the Dodgers have Clayton Kershaw, Kenta Maeda, Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy, Julio Urias, Jose De Leon, Brock Stewart, Alex Wood, Ross Stripling and Hyun-Jin Ryu all under team control for next season.

Of that group, the first five are those most likely to find themselves in the starting rotation to begin 2017 — with Wood and Ryu being wild cards depending on health.

Of course, there’s also the possibility of the Dodgers re-signing Rich Hill, or trading for Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Chris Archer, or another available starter. So, plenty can still change.

The bottom line is that Kazmir is going to be a major piece of what the team hopes to do next season. If he can lower his ERA below 4.00, having him on a two-year deal will be more than acceptable.