From the better late than never department, the Angels are reportedly on the verge of acquiring starting pitcher Scott Kazmir from the Tampa Bay Rays. The report from Lyle Spencer, the Angels beat reporter from MLB.com, so I would classify the news as very reliable. Spencer claims that the Angels would be sending Double-A LHP Alexander Torres and Single-A 3B Matthew Sweeney.
Well, I guess we now know why the Angels cleared a spot on the 40-man roster.
Kazmir, the former ace of the Tampa staff, has struggled mightily this year, so he should fit in with the rest of the staff. He currently sports an 8-7 record, 5.92 ERA and 1.54 WHIP while striking out 91 batters in 111 innings. However, Kazmir has been markedly better since the All-Star break with a 4.41 ERA and has had five quality starts in his last six appearances.
What isn’t yet clear in the deal is what the money situation will be. Kazmir is owed the remainder of his $6 million salary this year in addition to $8 million in 2010, $12 million in 2011 and a $13.5 team option in 2012 (with a $2.5 million buyout). Considering that the Angels are only giving up two well regarded but low-level prospects, there is a good chance that the Rays are at least picking up part of the bill.
Funnily enough, the Angels were close to a deal for Kazmir before the original trade deadline but never pulled anything off. But the struggles of Scott O’Sullivan and Trevor Bell combined with the uncertainty surrounding Joe Saunders clearly motivated Tony Reagins to finally pull the trigger on the trade. Kazmir will immediately fill the fifth starter spot and provide insurance for the Angels should Joe Saunders’ shoulder start acting up again. Moreover, Kazmir has ace potential and is locked into a long-term deal, which protects the team against losing John Lackey in free agency this off-season.
Aside from the fact that this deal came a month later than I would have liked, this looks like a strong move from the Angel front office that should give the team a kick in the ass and vastly improve their odds at defending the AL West crown.
- (1:50 PM UPDATE) A tweet from Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus claims that Kazmir is going to work out of the bullpen. Carroll give no source, which makes sense since it sounds totally false. Kaz might pitch out of the pen in the post-season, but unless Trevor Bell is lights out tonight, they have no reason to keep him out of the rotation.
- (2:03 PM UPDATE) Lots of mixed signals right now. The LA Times has confirmed the trade, but the Angels have pulled the MLB.com story off their home page, though the old link still works.
- (2:24 PM UPDATE) FRAK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! MLB.com is now reporting that the deal has fallen through. No reason was given and no confirmation either way has developed elsewhere. FYI, the link posted with the original story has been changed as well to the new deal has fallen through story, so I apologize if that is confusing.
- (2:56 PM UPDATE) Still no official word either way, rumors are flying in both directions. I have even heard now that the Angels will be throwing in a player to be named later. Maybe that was the snag?
- (4:05 PM UPDATE) The latest rumblings are starting to strongly lean towards the deal being done, but that the Rays won’t make it official until later tonight since their game is about to get underway (though it is rain delayed). Again though it seems that a PTBNL is involved which is very interesting because this late in the year it means that the player is probably already on the Angels’ 40-man roster, which if is really the case would make the deal much sweeter for the Rays.
- (4:45 PM FINAL UPDATE) The consensus appears to be that the deal will be announced after the Rays game tonight, as well as that the Angels will be on the hook for all of Kazmir’s remaining salary.