FanPost

Implications of the Scott Kazmir Trade on the AL West

Last week, the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays completed a trade sending former ace Scott Kazmir to the Angles for Alex Torres, Matt Sweeney, and a player to be named later. The player to be named later was supposedly a significant piece and the PTBNL was Sean Rodriguez who recently moved to the Rays roster. This trade has serious implications on the Angels and the AL West.

The first thing that we should look at is Kazmir's contract. According to the amazing Cot's Contracts:

Scott Kazmir lhp
3 years/$28.5M (2009-11), plus 2012 club option
  • 3 years/$28.5M (2009-11), plus 2012 club option

    • signed extension with Tampa Bay 5/14/08

    • 09:$6M, 10:$8M, 11:$12M, 12:$13.5M club option ($2.5M buyout)

    • $0.8M bonus if traded (for first trade only)

    • perks: use of luxury suite for 5 home games per season

    • Kazmir to donate to club charity $75,000 each in 2009 and 2010, and $100,000 each in 2011 and 2012 (if option is exercised)

    • acquired by LA Angels in trade from Tampa Bay 8/29/09

The critical part is that in addition to the prorated portion of $6m this year along with the $800k bonus for being traded, or $1,947,541, the Angles are on the hook for $22.5m over the next two seasons. So the first part of the question is what value will Kazmir provide to the Angels for the next two years. Kazmir has the warning signs of a pitcher in decline. Kazmir had built his previous success on not only being a strikeout pitcher, but being one of the best strikeout pitchers in the major leagues, coming in 2nd among qualified starters in K/9 in 2007, the height of his value. He has not done that this year. His fastball velocity is down 1.7 MPH between 2007 and 2009 and in the same time period his once strong slider is down 3.8 MPH according to Pitch f(x). Both subsequently are down in effectiveness, as his slider was twice as effective per 100 pitches last year and his fastball loses more than a run more for his team compared to 2007. Kazmir's loss of stuff is also reflected in his swinging strike rates which climbed by 6.6% in the last year and 7.6% from 2007, declining from significantly above league average to above league average. He also lost his ability to generate ground balls. After having a higher ground ball percentage than fly ball percentage in 2005, 2006, and 2007, that trend reversed itself in the last two years.

The best thing within a pitchers control that they can do to prevent runs is to get swinging strikes, and in that regard Scott Kazmir is becoming a much much worse pitcher. The 7.8% decline in K rate means that 51 more balls will be put in play, if Kazmir faces 650 batters and has a .47% FB rate and a 10% FB/HR rate, that in addition to giving up more hits he will give up 2-3 more Hrs than in the past. Kazmir has always been susceptible to the long ball but the drop in his K rate and walking more than 4 batters per 9 innings suggest that he will be a league average or below pitcher if his stuff doesn't rebound from his injuries.

One of the great things that Blez has done with SB Nation is having a player page that is updated with all of the nagging injuries that are reported. Look at Scott Kazmir's last three years.

June 26, 2009

Missed 33 games (quadricep injury).

May 22, 2009

Quadricep injury, 15-day DL.

July 19, 2008

Rest, day-to-day.

May 4, 2008

Missed 30 games (strained left elbow).

March 25, 2008

Strained left elbow, 15-day DL (retroactive to March 21).

October 2, 2006

Missed the last 36 games of the regular season (shoulder injury).

August 26, 2006

Shoulder injury, 15-day DL.

August 8, 2006

Missed 14 games (shoulder injury).

July 30, 2006

Shoulder injury, 15-day DL (retroactive to July 24).

 

Is that the kind of injury history that you want on your side going into $22.5m guaranteed after this year and $1.95m this year? To be worth his contract Kazmir needs to generate 6 WAR or so between now and the end of the 2010 season. Considering that the last two years Kazmir has been 2 or less WAR, expecting him to return to a 2.875+ WAR a year pitcher and contributing .25 WAR (being a leauge average pitcher over 5 starts) this year, seems foolish.

However, with any pitcher and especially one that has shown the disparate levels of performance there is significant risk. If Kazmir returns to his 5 WAR form from 2007 he would be worth his 2010 and 2011 salary in just one season and with a 2012 option that is cheap for a pitcher of that caliber. That being said with the injury history you see above it is also possible that a strained left elbow (which by definition is a tear) turns into a torn UCL and requires Tommy John surgery, or a series of shoulder injuries turns into a torn labrum. Therefore, it does not seem unreasonable to believe that the risk of injury going forward equals or exceeds the likelihood of a significant rebound beyond 3 WAR. If Kazmir's performance is 2.875 WAR a year going forward and .25 WAR this year, the Kazmir has no surplus value to the Angles. If, as I believe, the possible risk of injury or performance degradation outweighs the potential to outperform expectations then the contract has negative value for the Angles.

So if there is no surplus value the Angles are neither winners or losers in the strictest sense, as long as they paid nothing to acquire him and the opportunity cost of doing so does impede other acquisitions that would provide surplus value. Fortunately for A's fans, the Angels paid a high price in talent to acquire Scott Kazmir and arguably used a significant portion of their discretionary funds for the acquisition of Kazmir.

Lets look at the discretionary funds portion first.

LA ANGELS

 

 

salary+prorated bonus

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pos'n

Length / Total Value

2009

2010

10 projected

2011

11 projected

2012

Hunter, Torii

of

5 yr/$90M (08-12)

$18,000,000

$18.500

$18.500

$18.500

$18.500

$18.500

Guerrero, Vladimir

of

5 yr/$70M (04-08)+09 cl opt

$15,000,000

FA

 

 

 

 

Matthews Jr., Gary

of

5 yr/$50M (07-11)

$10,400,000

$11.400

$11.400

$12.400

$12.400

FA

Escobar, Kelvim

rhp

3 yr/$28.5M (07-09)

$10,000,000

FA

 

 

 

 

Lackey, John

rhp

3 yr/$17.01M (06-08)+09 cl opt

$10,000,000

FA

 

 

 

 

Fuentes, Brian

lhp

2 yr/$17.5M (09-10)+11 opt

$8,500,000

$9.000

$9.000

 

 

 

Kazmir, Scott

lhp

3 yr/$28.5M (09-11),+ 12 cl opt

$1,947,541

$8.000

$8.000

$12.500

$12.500

 

Figgins, Chone

inf

1 yr/$5.775M (09)

$5,775,000

FA

 

 

 

 

Abreu, Bobby

of

1 yr/$5M (09)

$5,000,000

FA

 

 

 

 

Shields, Scot

rhp

3 yr/$14.6M (08-10)

$5,000,000

$5.350

$5.350

FA

FA

 

Speier, Justin

rhp

4 yr/$18M (07-10)

$4,750,000

$5.250

$5.250

FA

FA

 

Santana, Ervin

rhp

4 yr/$30M (09-12)+13 cl opt

$3,800,000

$6.000

$6.000

$8.000

$8.000

$11.200

Oliver, Darren

lhp

1 yr/$3.665M (09)

$3,665,000

FA

 

 

 

 

Rivera, Juan

of

3 yr/$12.75M (09-11)

$3,250,000

$3.250

$3.250

$3.250

$3.250

FA

Napoli, Mike

c

1 yr/$2M (09)

$2,000,000

Arb 2

$3.500

Arb 3

$5.000

Arb 4

Izturis, Maicer

inf

1 yr/$1.6M (09)

$1,600,000

Arb 3

$3.200

FA

FA

 

Quinlan, Robb

inf

1 yr/$1.1M (09)

$1,100,000

FA

 

 

 

 

Morales, Kendry

inf-of

6 yr/$4.5M (05-10)

$1,100,000

$1.200

$1.200

Arb 1

$5.000

Arb 2

Saunders, Joe

lhp

1 yr/$0.475M (09)

$475,000

Arb 1

$2.000

Arb 2

$3.000

Arb 3

Kendrick, Howie

2b

1 yr/$0.465M (09)

$465,000

Arb 1

$1.800

Arb 2

$3.000

 

Weaver, Jared

rhp

1 yr/$0.465M (09)

$465,000

Arb 1

$4.000

Arb 2

$7.000

Arb 3

Aybar, Erick

ss

1 yr/$0.46M (09)

$460,000

Arb 1

$2.500

Arb 2

$4.000

Arb 3

Mathis, Jeff

c

1 yr/$0.45M (09)

$450,000

Arb 1

$1.500

Arb 2

$2.250

Arb 3

Willits, Reggie

of

1 yr/$0.45M (09)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moseley, Dustin

rhp

1 yr/$0.435M (09)

$435,000

 

 

Arb 1

$1.000

Arb 2

Arredondo, Jose

rhp

1 yr/$0.41M (09)

$410,000

 

$0.425

 

 

 

Loux, Shane

rhp

1 yr/$0.405M (09)

$405,000

 

 

 

 

 

Rodriguez, Sean

ss

1 yr/$0.405M (09)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wood, Brandon

ss

1 yr/$0.405M (09)

 

 

$0.425

 

 

 

Bulger, Jason

rhp

1 yr/$0.403M (09)

$403,000

 

$0.425

 

 

 

Jepsen, Kevin

rhp

1 yr/$0.401M (09)

$401,000

 

$0.425

 

 

 

Adenhart, Nick

rhp

1 yr/$0.4M (09)

$400,000

 

 

 

 

 

Brown, Matt

inf

1 yr/$0.4M (09)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Budde, Ryan

c

1 yr/$0.4M (09)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Evans, Terry

of

1 yr/$0.4M (09)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ortega, Anthony

rhp

1 yr/$0.4M (09)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rodriguez, Rafael

rhp

1 yr/$0.4M (09)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sandoval, Freddy

inf

1 yr/$0.4M (09)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thompson, Rich

rhp

1 yr/$0.4M (09)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trumbo, Mark

1b

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wilson, Bobby

c

1 yr/$0.4M (09)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anderson, Garret

 

 

$3,000,000

 

 

 

 

 

TOTAL

 

 

$116,709,000

$59.950

$88.150

$42.150

$84.900

$29.700

 

*My projections are based on similar arbitration cases over the last two years and I had a 3k word post all written up Sunday night when AN/Chromium/Ubuntu's new alpha made it disappear. Therefore, if you have any questions based on the amounts of the arbitration awards (or really any questions in general), I am more than happy to answer them but I am going to cut this part of this version.*

Considering the dismal state of the economy, it is likely that the Angels payroll will be down to $110m next year. That would provide just slightly less than $30m before the Kazmir acquisition. The Angles would be lacking two starting pitchers, a starting right fielder, a starting designated hitter, back up first and third baseman, a starting third baseman, a left handed reliever, and a setup man. Kazmir's $8m represents a little more than a fourth of that sum, leaving only about $22m remaining to fill all of those positions. That makes it nearly impossible to see a return for Chone Figgins, who will likely command $7.5-$10m a season for at least three years, when Brandon Wood is a viable replacement at the hot corner. Similarly John Lackey will receive around $15-17m a year for at least 4 years and likely more, which makes his return unlikely as well since the rest of those needs would have to be filled at $5m-$7m total. There are also back of the rotation candidates within the system, Dustin Mosely, Shane Loux, and others, who despite not being very good are cheap replacements, though the Angels are clearly lacking depth.

Right field and DH do not have suitable internal replacement. Gary Mathews Jr is a below replacement rate player and Reggie Wiltis is not a major league starter. While there a plenty of DH bats available, which should depress their prices. Further, Juan Rivera has had plenty of experience in RF, which puts left fielders in play as free agents.

This suggests that getting one big bat for the outfield and letting DH be a position that players rotate through to provide rest and better catcher defense with Napoli getting lots of DH at bats with Mathis behind the plate. If the Angles sign a bat for $16m+ plus they can probably only afford at most a good bullpen arm (such as resigning Darren Oliver) and a back up 1b/3b veteran.

2011 is an even bigger problem if they have $16-$20m committed to an OF bat. The trade of Sean Rodriguez will require them to stick with Howie Kendrick through arbitration, and they will need a back up MI when Macir Izturis leaves after 2010. Closer also becomes a problem as Brian Fuentes is in an $11m option year that if exercised leaves no budget room for the rest of the bullpen which will need serious help with setup men, starting DH, negotiate extensions with arbitration eligible players, or to replace under performing or injured players.

Essentially the Kazmir trade throughly compromises their payroll flexibility, doing so for someone that is not likely to bring surpluss value beyond his contract.

The trade also gave up three of the Angles best prospects from one of the most depleted farm systems in baseball, though their 2009 draft was strong.

Here are the Sickles grades on the two prospects.

14) Alexander Torres, LHP, Grade C+: 10-3, 2.74 with a 124/63 K/BB in 121 innings for Rancho, just promoted to Double-A where he's 2-1, 3.60 with a 17/14 K/BB in 20 innings. Needs to improve command, but gets lots of ground balls and fans people.

Matt Sweeney

I gave him a Grade C due to he uncertainty regarding recovery from his 2008 ankle injury. In the book I wrote that I had him as a Grade C+ with some breakout potential if he was fully healthy.

While C+ prospects aren't a lot, the Angles entering this year have only five better than C+ prospects in their system. Sweeney was

The biggest piece is Rodriguez who Fangraphs said this about:

He’s a 24-year-old middle infielder with a ridiculous line of .301/.402/.622 in Triple-A. It comes in a hitters park where the team average line is .273/.342/.434, but Rodriguez still possesses some skills that appear to separate him from a figment of the ballpark. Baseball America had him amongst the top 10 prospects in the Angels system in their 2008 pre-season rankings and didn’t appear on the 2009 list because he received more than 150 plate appearances last season causing him to lose his prospect status.

With a 2 years of team control left and 3 years of arbitration (and a 40%, 60%, 80% salary/value model for those arbitration years) means that if Rodriguez is only worth 1 WAR for 6 years he would be providing the team the value of 3.2 WAR to the Rays which valued at $4m a pythagorean win is $12.8m in value to the Rays. Rodriguez has significant upside beyond the 1 WAR a year projection especially if he stays at SS.

In addition, the cost in prospects is very significant as it almost negates the Angels ability to make an offseason deal. Of their top prospects almost all have either been hurt, not progressed, do not have much upside, or were needed for the back of the rotation. Their strong draft picks this year cannot be traded because it has been less than a year since they were drafted. Rodriguez, Torres, and Sweeney represent some of the most valuable trading chips that the organization had, and this trade leaves them with little to make trades with going forward.

Due to the lack of surplus value in Kazmir's contract, the value of the prospects lost, and the opportunity cost for other acquisitions, the acquisition of Scott Kazmir has seriously impeded the Angles ability to compete moving forward in a much more competitive AL West.

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