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Oakland A's rumors: Scott Kazmir reunion could happen

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Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland A's are in the running to sign free agent starting pitcher Scott Kazmir, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. The left-hander could command something in the neighborhood of $17-18 million per year, mentions Slusser.

Kazmir has signed a free agent contract with the A's before, prior to the 2014 season. He made the All-Star team in his first year with Oakland, and was pitching well again in 2015 before being traded to the Houston Astros at the deadline once the A's had fallen out of contention. All told, he made 50 starts for the A's and posted a 3.12 ERA (123 ERA+) in exactly 300 innings, though he fell off last fall after joining the Astros.

It sounds like that previous history with the team may give them an advantage in terms of signing the pitcher, via Slusser:

There are numerous other clubs pursuing the left-hander, including teams with bigger payrolls, but Kazmir enjoyed his time in the A's and has numerous close friends there, including starter Sonny Gray and reliever Sean Doolittle.

Kazmir, who will turn 32 before the upcoming season, is a particularly attractive free agent target because he does not have draft pick compensation tied to him. Since he didn't spend all of 2015 on the same team, he was not eligible for a qualifying offer this winter, and therefore he will only cost money for whatever team signs him. If the salary estimate reported by Slusser is accurate, then that could mean a deal that looks something like 3yr/$54M, or even 4yr/$72M.

Since making his comeback to MLB in 2013 after essentially missing the previous two seasons, Kazmir has posted a 3.54 ERA in 92 starts for the Indians, A's, and Astros. He's made at least 29 starts in each of those three years, and his ERA has dropped by around half a run each year as well. On the downside, he has struggled to varying degrees in the second of the last two seasons -- he posted 6.52 ERA in Sept. 2014, and a 5.42 ERA in the second half of 2015.

If signed, he would slot into the rotation with Sonny Gray and Rich Hill, with youngsters such as Jesse Hahn, Chris Bassitt, Kendall Graveman, and Sean Nolin fighting for the final spots.