The Los Angeles Dodgers took the first step in officially addressing their need for starting pitching by signing Scott Kazmir to a three-year contract on Wednesday.
The deal calls for Kazmir, who turns 32 years old on Jan. 24, to earn $48 million. However, it includes deferred salaries and an opt-out clause after the first year.
Kazmir spent the first half of the 2015 season with the Oakland Athletics, where he went 5-5 with a 2.38 ERA, 3.16 FIP and 1.09 WHIP in 18 starts.
The southpaw was only 2-6 with a 4.17 ERA, 5.19 FIP and 1.39 WHIP over 13 starts with the Astros.
While he was arguably the top free-agent pitcher still available, he hardly entered the offseason as a headliner.
A strong 2016 season could easily change that as the class of free-agent starting pitchers won’t be nearly as deep as this year’s group.
Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi pointed to the organization’s depth as reason there’s little concern over the possibility of Kazmir opting out after just one season in Los Angeles, via Bill Shaikin of the LA Times:
“In Scott’s case, he and his representation are aware that next year’s free-agent starting pitching market will probably be a pretty good seller’s market,” Zaidi said. “From our standpoint, we have a lot of good young pitching that we feel is going to be ready to contribute at some point in 2016 and certainly by 2017.”
Should the southpaw elect for free agency next year, the Dodgers would be in position to net a compensatory pick for the 2017 draft should they extend the qualifying offer and Kazmir decline it to sign elsewhere.
In that event, one of Jose De Leon, Frankie Montas or Julio Urias presumably would be ready for a full season in the Majors.