Tag: Scott Kazmir

Scott Kazmir Trade Rumors: Latest News and Speculation on Dodgers Pitcher

The Los Angeles Dodgers have a crowded roster heading into the meat of their offseason and are reportedly shopping left-handed pitcher Scott Kazmir to create additional space, per Buster Olney of ESPN The Magazine.

Continue for updates.

Trading Kazmir Would Help Dodgers Add Hill

Sunday, Dec. 4

Olney noted Los Angeles couldn’t sign free agent Rich Hill and other players with a 40-man roster already at 39 without making some moves, such as trading Kazmir.

Los Angeles eventually signing Hill appears to be approaching as reality, as Bill Plunkettof the Orange County Register said the two sides were “closing in on [a] multiyear deal.”

Clayton Kershaw served as the anchor for the Dodgers rotation in 2016, but Hill was a major reason they reached the National League Championship Series and took the eventual World Series champion Chicago Cubs to six games.

The southpaw made six starts for the team down the stretch after beginning the season on the Oakland Athletics and posted a 1.83 ERA and 0.79 WHIP in 34.1 innings. He also finished with a solid 3.46 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and 19 strikeouts in three playoff starts.

If trading Kazmir will help Los Angeles bring that type of production back, it is probably worth it.

However, Mark Polishuk of MLB Trade Rumors said moving Kazmir would be about more than just clearing roster space since it would directly impact the team’s rotation plans with Kershaw, Kenta Maeda and Julio Urias as the only surefire options at this point.

Polishuk pointed to candidates such as Alex Wood, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Jose De Leon who could emerge in the race for spots, especially since Olney noted the Dodgers were also shopping Brandon McCarthy.

Kazmir comes with some risks, since he will be 33 years old throughout the entirety of the 2017 campaign. He also dealt with thoracic spine inflammation in 2016 in his first year with the Dodgers and pitched just one inning after Aug. 22.

The journeyman has played for the Tampa Bay Rays, Los Angeles Angels, Cleveland Indians, Houston Astros, Oakland Athletics and Dodgers throughout his career and finished the 2016 campaign with a 4.56 ERA, 1.36 WHIP and 134 strikeouts in 136.1 innings. The recent numbers don’t exactly turn heads, but he is a three-time All-Star (2006, 2008 and 2014) with six seasons of a sub-4.00 ERA on his resume.

The injury problems are a concern considering he made a mere one start in 2011 and didn’t pitch in 2012, but he did tally 26 or more starts in each of the last four seasons.

He is a high-risk, high-reward endeavor who could attract teams looking for starting pitching depth on the trade market instead of through free agency.

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Scott Kazmir Fills a Need, but Won’t Turn Tide of Dodgers’ Disappointing Winter

Scott Kazmir is nice. Quite fine, even.

But Scott Kazmir is not enough to fix what is becoming a more uninspiring offseason by the day for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Dodgers, three-time defending National League West champions, agreed to a three-year, $48 million contract with the left-handed Kazmir, according to Fox Sports’ Jon Morosi:

On its own, the deal is solid, as the soon-to-be 32-year-old owns a respectable 3.33 ERA over the last two seasons.

But in the vacuum that is the Dodgers’ offseason, one that has seen them let Zack Greinke walk to a rival and Aroldis Chapman’s domestic issues sully a blockbuster trade and Hisashi Iwakuma’s balky medicals nix their agreement, this deal for Kazmir is not enough to say the Dodgers are the favorites in the remade and highly competitive NL West.

The opt-out after one year shows that Kazmir would like to re-establish his value with a good 2016 and that the Dodgers just need a stopgap starter before their young minor league pitchers mature enough to take on full-time roles in their rotation.

“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,” Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi told reporters. “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.”

The problem is Kazmir, if he is not a front-line arm the way he was for the Oakland A’s during the first half of last season, is not the kind of piece that gives the Dodgers a major boost. In fact, if he pitches like he did down the stretch for the Houston Astros, he is a liability.

As of now, the Dodgers are not a bad club, despite what knee-jerk analysts, misinformed fans and radio talking heads might have you believe.

This team was among the best offensive clubs in baseball last season, and that was with Yasiel Puig out or playing hurt for the majority of 2015. And the offense stands to improve next season if All-Star center fielder Joc Pederson can become more disciplined as a power threat and rookie shortstop Corey Seager produces more than Jimmy Rollins did last season, which shouldn’t be difficult.

Then there is Puig, a player who the misguided believe should be on the scrap heap for offenses no more serious than him being a youthful headache. But he won’t even make $20 million in base salary over the next three years, and when he’s been healthy, he has been among the best. That last part is undeniable.

Oh, and there is Clayton Kershaw, the best thrower of a baseball on the planet. Also undeniable. Plus a dominant closer in Kenley Jansen, even if the rest of the bullpen is seriously suspect.

So people should be inclined to stop bashing the Dodgers as an afterthought within their own division. They might not be the favorite before the new year rings in, but they do not stink to the high heavens.

Kazmir affirms that. He could end up as a quality lefty, one battle-tested in the more difficult American League last season.

In fact, why Kazmir wasn’t more coveted in a market thirsty for pitching is a bit of a mystery. He is aged and he did have a rugged end to 2015, pitching to a gruesome 5.89 ERA over his final nine starts for the Astros (he had a 2.12 ERA over his first 22 starts between the A’s and Astros). But he’s healthy and capable, and he can help the Dodgers if he pitches as he did before his late-season collapse.

However, the Dodgers needed more than help this offseason. They needed significant impact considering they lost Greinke, arguably the best pitcher in the majors last season. And ideally, they needed a right-handed starting pitcher since, with Kazmir, the rotation might be entirely left-handed come Opening Day, though the Dodgers front office does not see that as a major negative.

“That’s something we’ve discussed over the course of the offseason,” Zaidi told reporters of the all-lefty rotation. “It sets you up for a situation where having some balance in the bullpen makes some sense, because you’re going to see a certain type of lineup day-in, day-out when you have an extreme rotation one way or another.”

Chapman would have provided that impact and excitement. Johnny Cueto or Andrew Miller would have, too. A deal for Jose Fernandez was always a pipe dream, but Carlos Carrasco or Danny Salazar had potential.

Instead, the Dodgers are driving a fall and winter that to this point have done little other than disappoint onlookers, and possibly themselves, as Chapman and Iwakuma appeared to be in the bag. The consolation prize is Kazmir and a bunch of little-to-nothing signings and trades, although their prospect package in the Todd Frazier trade was applauded and they could still win the bidding war for Kenta Maeda.

That does not mean the Dodgers should be written off as also-rans. They have a quality roster, one that most other GMs in the game would swap for their own right now. But this franchise is not in the business of simply being better than most.

It exists to win World Series titles. Kazmir could end up contributing to that, but as of right now, he is the Dodgers’ major acquisition and does not make them a pennant favorite in what is still a lackluster offseason.


All quotes, unless otherwise specified, have been acquired firsthand by Anthony Witrado. Follow Anthony on Twitter @awitrado and talk baseball here.

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2016 MLB Free Agents: Latest Rumors on Alex Gordon, Chris Davis, Scott Kazmir

Many of the big-ticket free agents in this year’s loaded class of have found new homes before the holiday, but given a dense contingent of 139 free agents total, plenty of outliers remain. 

The pitching market has largely subsided now that blue chips Zack Greinke, David Price and Johnny Cueto have been whisked away with nine-figure deals, and Jason Heyward got the ball rolling among his fellow outfielders. 

There is still plenty of talent out there, as Christopher Kamka of CSNChicago.com noted:

Heyward‘s $184 million deal with the Chicago Cubs reportedly wasn’t his highest offer, which may have more of a ripple effect on where the bar is set among the rest of the outfield market. 

Heyward was considered the top free-agent outfielder this winter, and his deal was expected to set a new bar for his position for players like Chris Davis and Alex Gordon, among others. 

Here is a look at the latest buzz on a few high-profile names that still seek a home. 


White Sox Interested in Alex Gordon

The Chicago White Sox are interested in adding Alex Gordon and swooping him away from the incumbent Kansas City Royals, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports

While a union would certainly bolster the lineup to complement slugger Jose Abreu and newly acquired third baseman Todd Frazier, the White Sox already house Avisail Garcia and Melky Cabrera in their corner-outfield spots, and have Adam LaRoche at DH. 

Gordon is expected to net a five-year deal worth at least $100 million, per Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors, which may be out of the White Sox’s price range, per Rosenthal:

However, Rosenthal indicated that should the White Sox land Gordon, they’d shuffle other personnel in order to make a financial fit:

Gordon was an All-Star in each of the last three seasons and a key cog in the Royals’ pennant runs the past two Octobers as the team’s defensive catalyst. 

By adding multifaceted Gordon, the White Sox would not only bolster their starting lineup, but also pry away one of the primary contributors of a team within their division that by all signs will contend again in 2016. 


Orioles, Chris Davis Continue to Talk After Offer Pulled

Contract negotiations between the Baltimore Orioles and slugging first baseman Chris Davis reached a breaking point when the team pulled a seven-year, $150 million offer earlier this month, according to Buster Olney of ESPN The Magazine

Both parties contrast in what they believe is an appropriate offer, though Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports dialogue remains ongoing between Davis’ agent Scott Boras and Orioles owner Peter Angelos:

Boras‘ claim is that the $22 million yearly figure is about what was paid to Jacoby Ellsbury, exactly what was paid to Hanley Ramirez and less than Jason Heyward got. And none of those players slugs like Davis.

While Orioles people are investigating other possibilities, it seems likely that to this point Angelos hasn’t given the go-ahead to sign someone to truly replace Davis.

However, Olney reported the team is seeking other options, albeit at a different position, to fill Davis’ potential power void in the lineup:

Davis led the majors in home runs two of the last three years but has been a notoriously streaky hitter, best shown by his .196/.300/.404 slash line in 2014 when he played 127 games. 

Because he packs the punch from the plate and today’s market is insanely inflated, Davis will likely land the deal he seeks. 

The Orioles missed out on the playoffs last year after reaching the ALCS the year prior, and while a void at first base may be difficult to endure, they may be better off investing elsewhere. 


Scott Kazmir Reportedly Has Plenty of Options

Now that Greinke, Price and Cueto are gone, Kazmir remains arguably the best starting pitcher on the market. 

Heyman reported Kazmir has multiple three-year offers in the $12-13 million per-year range, and Bob Nightengale of USA Today revealed who those suitors likely are: 

Rosenthal followed up that the Oakland A’s—with whom Kazmir pitched in 2014 and parts of 2015—are out of the mix after signing Henderson Alvarez to a one-year, $4.25 million deal.  

Kazmir still has plenty of options but is likely waiting for the first reasonable four-year offer, per Heyman

Kazmir, 31, is entering his 12th season but showed no signs of aging in a year he made 31 starts, threw 183 innings and compiled a 3.10 ERA with the A’s and Houston Astros. 

The Washington Nationals could use another starter to replace Jordan Zimmermann, the Royals are now sans Cueto with Kazmir a more affordable option and the St. Louis Cardinals lost the John Lackey sweepstakes. Kazmir would be a worthy replacement for any of those. 

The Astros don’t plan to simply re-sign Kazmir as trade bait, according to the Houston Chronicle‘s Evan Drellichand already have a great core around Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh, Mike Fiers and Lance McCullers Jr. Add a healthy Scott Feldman, and they’ll have a remarkable five. 

The Orioles might make the most sense given Wei-Yin Chen is reportedly seeking a five-year, $100 million deal, per Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com, and Baltimore will already be chasing the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays in a competitive AL East. 

Kazmir would be best suited to sign with a team he believes he’ll play a key role and with one that can contend. But he also should net that fourth year as a deserving and established lefty that would bolster the top of just about any rotation. 

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Which of Scott Kazmir’s Final Suitors Needs Him the Most?

Perhaps because there are other things going on this time of year, it sure seems like Major League Baseball’s offseason market has slowed to a crawl.

Save for one exception. From the sound of it, the situation is moving toward a conclusion in Scott Kazmir‘s corner of the market.

The veteran left-hander is a free agent fresh off a 3.10 ERA with the Oakland A’s and Houston Astros in 2015, so it wasn’t surprising to hear Jon Heyman of CBS Sports report that Kazmir has received multiple three-year offers worth $12 million-$13 million per year.

Courtesy of Bob Nightengale of USA Today, we now have an idea of where these offers are coming from:

This list of six teams can be bumped down to five. According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the A’s were removed from the mix when they picked up Henderson Alvarez.

As for the five finalists in the running, one can see Kazmir signing with any one of them. He shouldn’t be too expensive for any of the five. And because a midseason trade barred him from receiving a qualifying offer, none of his suitors will be scared off by ties to draft-pick compensation.

So, there’s a pretty good chance the team that simply needs Kazmir the most will be the one that signs him. As far as that goes, here’s how his final suitors rank in terms of where he’s needed most.


5. Washington Nationals

With Jordan Zimmermann lost to free agency and Doug Fister presumably to follow, the Nationals’ starting rotation is looking a bit thinner than usual.

But it could still look worse. Washington’s front three of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez could be one of the best in the National League, and Tanner Roark and Joe Ross are a solid back end. Roark was an elite starter as recently as 2014, and Ross showed in 2015 that he has stuff reminiscent of his older brother, Tyson.

The problem is that these five are all the Nationals have for now. While they do have top prospect Lucas Giolito waiting in the wings, bringing in an extra starter like Kazmir would hardly be the worst idea in the world for the Nats.

But considering they don’t really need Kazmir, whether Washington is better off spending money elsewhere is a good question. For example, it arguably needs outfield and middle infield depth more than it needs starting pitching depth.

So, let’s head to Kazmir’s last known location instead…


4. Houston Astros

In case anyone’s wondering, Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow doesn’t feel obliged to re-sign Kazmir to justify trading for him over the summer.

“We traded for Kazmir because we wanted Kazmir for the balance of 2015 and for the playoffs,” Luhnow said in November, via Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. “That’s independent of who we see Kazmir as as a free-agent candidate for us going forward. The two aren’t linked. I think it would be irresponsible of me to want to sign him moreso just to justify a trade that is already over. I mean, that trade is over.”

If the Astros are going to re-sign Kazmir, it will be because they’re uncomfortable with their rotation as it is.

And the thing about that, you see, is their rotation is pretty good. Dallas Keuchel just won the American League Cy Young Award, and he’s backed by a solid trio in Collin McHugh, Mike Fiers and Lance McCullers Jr. If Scott Feldman can stay healthy, Houston’s rotation will also have a solid No. 5.

Of course, that Feldman started only 18 games in 2015 makes that a big if. And where he comes with a durability question mark, Fiers and McCullers come with consistency question marks.

That may not be enough to justify what it would cost to sign Kazmir, though—especially in light of how the Astros don’t figure to rely too heavily on their starting pitching going forward, as they also have a powerful offense, a strong defense and, thanks to the Ken Giles trade, a deeper bullpen.

So, let’s move on.


3. Kansas City Royals

The Royals have retained one starting pitcher this winter, re-signing Chris Young to a two-year contract. But the bigger story is the loss of Johnny Cueto, who is notably better than Young.

Of course, the Royals only got to experience that firsthand in spurts in 2015, as Cueto was extremely up-and-down after they acquired him in a July trade. But if nothing else, Cueto is an innings eater. After their rotation finished 24th in innings pitched in 2015, the Royals do need one of those.

They’ll be lucky if they can find one from within. With Edinson Volquez and Yordano Ventura leading the charge, Kansas City’s rotation is solid up top. But after them come Kris Medlen, Danny Duffy and Young, which is not such a solid trio.

But like the Astros, the Royals at least have a pretty good team around their starting rotation. Even if they also lose outfielder Alex Gordon to free agency, they should pitch, hit and field pretty well in 2016. They also play in an AL Central where they aren’t exactly looking up at anyone.

So, let’s go next door instead…


2. St. Louis Cardinals

It makes perfect sense that the Cardinals are taking a look at Kazmir. After losing Lance Lynn to Tommy John surgery and John Lackey to free agency, they are in the market for a reliable starter.

Mind you, St. Louis’ rotation still looks good on paper. It’s led by Adam Wainwright and contains Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha and Jaime Garcia. That’s a talented foursome.

Talented, yes, but also potentially rickety. Wainwright is headed for his age-34 season in 2016, and the other three all come with durability question marks. And beneath the four of them, the Cardinals’ starting pitching depth leaves much to be desired. 

Kazmir could help ease that concern. And as Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com argued, there’s no point in worrying about a potential logjam that signing him could create in the near future:

The Cardinals, aware that you can never have too much pitching, are not ruling out signing/acquiring a pitcher with multiple years of control. While yes, this could present a logjam in 2017 when you consider the crop of rising young pitchers in the organization, also keep in mind that Lynn and Garcia will be free agents after that season. That means that the Cardinals will need to restock at some point, and if they like the options available now, they can work through surplus to assure coverage down the road.

There’s another reason why the Cardinals should be in on Kazmir. The way the Chicago Cubs have loaded up this offseason, the Cardinals have some keeping up to do in the NL Central.

However, they don’t need Kazmir quite as badly as the…


1. Baltimore Orioles

One idea for the Orioles would be to simply re-sign Wei-Yin Chen, who was pretty good for them in his four seasons with the club (3.72 ERA, 706.2 IP).

But, yeah. About that, here’s Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports: 

Kazmir makes sense as an alternative to Chen. Beyond being considerably cheaper, he’s been about as good as Chen over the last couple of years.

And a pitcher as good as Chen is the least that Baltimore’s starting rotation needs. It finished 22nd in ERA with Chen in 2015 and now consists of just Chris Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez, Ubaldo Jimenez, Kevin Gausman and Mike Wright. Of the five, only Tillman makes the grade as reliable.

In light of that, it’s no wonder that FanGraphs projects only two teams will get fewer wins above replacement from their starting pitching than the Orioles in 2016. If Baltimore signs him, it’ll be patching up a rotation that’s in dire straits.

They’d also be giving themselves a fighting chance in the AL East. With Chris Davis also testing the free-agent waters and the Boston Red Sox joining the Toronto Blue Jays at the top of the division, the Orioles need as much help as they can get. 


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked.

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Scott Kazmir: Latest News, Rumors, Speculation Surrounding Free-Agent SP

With two of the top starting pitchers off the board, the rest of the dominoes are about to fall in this year’s free-agent market. Scott Kazmir may be among the next players to find a new home this offseason.

Continue for updates.

A’s Intrigued By Kazmir Reunion 

Sunday, Dec. 6

The Oakland Athletics have “interest” in re-singing Kazmir, according to Joe Stiglich of CSN Bay Area. 

Kazmir complied a record of 20-14 with a 3.12 ERA spread over 1.5 seasons with the A’s after signing a two-year deal before the 2014 season.

Kazmir Not Lacking in Potential Suitors

Sunday, Dec. 6

ESPN’s Buster Olney reported the Kansas City Royals and Los Angeles Dodgers are among those jockeying for position in the race to sign Kazmir. According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, as many as 12 teams have some level of interest in the 31-year-old left-hander.

Many of the teams looking at Kazmir were likely waiting for aces such as David Price and Zack Greinke to sign and set the bar for starting pitchers. Price will earn $217 million over seven years from the Boston Red Sox, while Greinke joined the Arizona Diamondbacks for six years and $206.5 million.

Nobody expects Kazmir to command $30-plus million a year, but teams that lost out on Greinke or Price may look at him as a backup plan.

He rejuvenated his career with the Cleveland Indians in 2013 and continued that improvement with the Athletics. Kazmir’s numbers dropped a bit after his trade to the Houston Astros, though. In 13 starts for Houston, he went 2-6 with a 4.17 earned run average and 5.19 FIP, per Baseball-Reference.com.

Especially for teams with playoff aspirations in 2016, Kazmir would be a great addition as a No. 4 or No. 5 starter. His 5.18 ERA in nine postseason appearances is a bit of a concern, though.

Still, the possibility nearly half of MLB is looking at Kazmir speaks to what he could bring to a team next year both on the mound and in the clubhouse.

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MLB Trade Rumors: Ideal Destinations for Top 5 Players on the Market

For the next few days, it’ll be All-Star season in Major League Baseball. And that’ll be fun.

But after that comes the really fun part: trade season. The July 31 trade deadline is fast approaching, so we should see the top players on the market start flying off the shelves in the very near future.

Our purpose here is to ponder the ideal destinations for the five best players on the market. That means establishing a profile for each player and narrowing his suitors down to the best possible fit.

Another thing: When we say “five best players on the market,” we mean realistically on the market. As fun as it would be to talk about destinations for guys like Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gomez and Aroldis Chapman, a careful study of MLB Trade Rumors leads one to believe they’re likely staying put.

We’ll start with the least desirable of our five players and work our way to the most desirable player. Step into the box whenever you’re ready.

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Biggest Issues the Dodgers Must Address at the Trade Deadline

When examining the Los Angeles Dodgers on the surface, it’s difficult to find anything significantly wrong with the team.

Not only do they rank among the top of the league in runs scored and ERA while having committed the sixth-fewest errors, the Dodgers have also maintained control of the National League West for most of the season.

But no team is perfect and with the trade deadline now just a month and a half away, the Dodgers may want to consider two minor issues.


Crowded Outfield

Heading into the season, the Dodgers’ starting outfield consisted of Yasiel Puig in right field, rookie Joc Pederson in center field and veteran Carl Crawford in left field.

The alignment quickly got shuffled when Puig went down with a hamstring injury in mid-April, and Crawford joined him on the shelf shortly thereafter with an oblique tear.

Veteran Andre Ethier, who had been essentially relegated to bench duties ever since Puig arrived in 2013, stepped in and has put together a nice bounce-back season so far. He is slashing .287/.366/.491, and his eight home runs have already doubled his 2014 total.

Manager Don Mattingly has also been trying to mix in the capable bats of outfielders Scott Van Slyke (currently rehabbing a back injury) and Alex Guerrero. With Puig and Crawford missing most of the first two months, the issue basically resolved itself. 

But Puig recently returned to the lineup, solidifying two of the three outfield spots alongside Pederson, an early front-runner for NL Rookie of the Year. The only position left up for grabs is left field, and there will be an obvious dilemma when Crawford and Van Slyke climb back into the fold to compete for playing time with Ethier and Guerrero.

The dilemma will be four outfielders for one spot. Even in a platoon strategy, that’s still two right-handed hitters (Guerrero/Van Slyke) and two lefties (Crawford/Ethier) competing against each other.

While the Dodgers’ president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman values depth, even he might realize the impending outfield surplus is probably untenable. 

So the questions then become who to trade and for what.


Starting Rotation Depth

If there’s one area in which Los Angeles could use some future help, it’s the back end of the starting rotation.

The Dodgers lost Hyun-jin Ryu and free-agent addition Brandon McCarthy to season-ending injuries, forcing fellow newcomer Brett Anderson to slide from the No. 5 spot in the rotation to No. 3 behind Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke.

Anderson has been satisfactory, posting a 3.57 ERA in 12 starts. But the southpaw’s lengthy injury history is a constant cause for concern. As Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times points out, Anderson’s 12 June innings are more than all of his June innings combined during the past five years.

The stopgap solutions that Mattingly has thrown into the fire—right-handers Mike Bolsinger and Carlos Frias—have performed admirably considering their lack of experience.

Bolsinger, acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks in the offseason, had thrown just 52 MLB innings prior to 2015. He began the season in Triple-A but has turned in a 4-1 record with a 2.25 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in 12 starts for the Dodgers since his promotion.

Frias entered this season even greener, with only 32 innings of prior MLB experience. But he, too, has held his own, compiling a 4-3 record and 3.86 ERA in eight starts.

Friedman and general manager Farhan Zaidi understand that Anderson’s next injury could be just around the corner. They also know full well that the surprising Bolsinger/Frias tandem might falter as the workload increases.

It’s why the Dodgers should consider adding a more proven arm to stabilize the back end of the rotation in case the aforementioned scenarios manifest themselves.


Trade Logistics

Los Angeles would probably like to trade away an outfielder in order to clear what will soon become a logjam. That’s easier said than done, however.

Although Ethier has re-established his trade value after two seasons with declining playing time and production, he is still owed $35.5 million through 2017—including a $17.5 million club option in 2018. Crawford and the $41.75 million he is due over the next two seasons will be nearly impossible to move, leaving Van Slyke and Guerrero as the two likeliest players to be flipped for some starting pitching.

Guerrero has become somewhat of a secret weapon for the Dodgers, slashing .282/.312/.615 with 10 home runs in limited action. While his statistics are surely attractive to other teams, the clause in his contract stipulating that he may become a free agent at the end of any season in which he is traded may hold up a potential deal.

Van Slyke possesses the cheapest contract of the bunch and is accustomed to coming off the bench. His career OPS of .805 indicates what kind of hitter the 28-year-old can be with regular playing time. Last year, he led Los Angeles in slugging percentage and OPS.

While pitchers on struggling teams like Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija will likely see their names cast into trade winds because of their contracts, the Dodgers might be interested in less-heralded hurlers come next month.

One realistic target could be Scott Kazmir of the Oakland Athletics, someone with whom the Los Angeles front office is quite familiar. Friedman worked with him in Tampa Bay, and Zaidi—formerly part of Billy Beane’s brain trust in Oakland—was instrumental in bringing him to the Bay Area.

The veteran left-hander has pitched well for the cellar-dwelling A’s, posting a 2.79 ERA in 12 starts. On the flip side, Oakland could use a player like Van Slyke to help bolster a regressing offense that currently ranks 17th in OPS. With the ability to play all three outfield positions, Van Slyke would also become an immediate offensive upgrade over current left fielder Sam Fuld.

Los Angeles will almost certainly need to include a collection of additional pitching prospects like Zach Lee, Ross Stripling or Zach Bird to facilitate this deal.

If Oakland wants Ethier—a player the A’s originally drafted—the Dodgers would need to eat a significant portion of his bloated contract, similar to the $32 million chunk they bit off this past offseason in the Matt Kemp trade.


All stats courtesy of ESPN.com unless otherwise linked/noted.

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10 MLB Players Most Likely to Be Dealt Before 2015’s Trade Deadline

From Johnny Cueto to Ben Zobrist, there are certain big leaguers who have a big chance of getting traded before the 2015 MLB trade deadline passes.

Simply put, the most likely trade chips are good players on bad teams. The righty ace and the Swiss Army Knife of baseball both fit that bill. Cueto and Zobrist aren’t the only players on the Cincinnati Reds and the Oakland Athletics, respectively, who crack a spot on this top 10.

But no team is better represented on the list than the Philadelphia Phillies.

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MLB Rumors: Latest on Free-Agent and Trade Pitching Targets

The 2014 MLB postseason was the epitome of the mantra “pitching wins championships.”

Teams lacking pitching will look to upgrade their staffs in the coming weeks. Luckily for the high number of teams in pursuit of arms, there appears to be plenty to go around. More than a handful of ace-like hurlers can be had via free agency or trades, meaning the balance of power in both the American League and National League could shift with one acquisition.

Is your favorite team in the market for a shiny new ace to feature at the top of its rotation? If so, it might want to check in on the following arms.


Cole Hamels

The Philadelphia Phillies have a number of assets who would fetch the organization a nice return, but the willingness to deal said parts has always been unknown.

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that not only is Cole Hamels available, but also that the Chicago Cubs are showing early interest:

The Cubs, already connected heavily in speculative reports about top free-agent pitchers Jon Lester and Max Scherzer, are also interested in Cole Hamels, according to sources, and are expecting to talk to the Phillies about him.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Cubs will look into Hamels, who’s comparable to the top two free-agent pitchers, and also available.

A pitcher of Hamels’ caliber would certainly reshape a rotation. He’ll be 31 in December, but he still turned in arguably the best campaign of his career in 2014. Despite a 9-9 record, Hamels posted a 2.46 ERA (3.07 FIP) to go along with a WHIP of 1.148 and 198 strikeouts in 204.2 innings.

He’s under contract at least through the 2018 season, though his team could lock him up for the following year by activating a $20 million team option. Without the option, he’s still owed $90 million.

The Cubs have money to spend and figure to be active this offseason. They already brought aboard Joe Maddon to bring the team into a new era of legitimacy. Maddon will help infuse the young talent in the organization into a roster that will hopefully (for the team) be filled with successful veterans.

Hamels would instantly slot in as the ace of the rotation, though he might not be the only top arm Chicago brings in. Heyman also noted that the team could look to Jon Lester.


Scott Kazmir and Jeff Samardzija

Nothing has ever stopped the Oakland Athletics from dealing top talent before, and Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that this offseason could be no different. The latest on the potential chopping block? Pitchers Scott Kazmir and Jeff Samardzija.

The A’s would listen if teams inquired on pitchers such as right-hander Jeff Samardzija and lefty Scott Kazmir,” reported Rosenthal.

Kazmir and Samardzija were two of the better pitchers in baseball in 2014. Take a look at the numbers below:

It’s strange to think of the Athletics possibly clearing house following their largely successful season. Yes, they collapsed miserably at the end of the season, but a few offensive upgrades would make this team better.

There’s a real chance the A’s lose Lester, Jason Hammel, Kazmir and Samardzija this offseason. They have Sonny Gray, A.J. Griffin and Jarrod Parker to lean on, but wouldn’t it be nice to keep a few extra arms who can mow down lineups?

The market for both Kazmir and Samardzija should be strong, and the A’s could capitalize on their solid seasons.


Max Scherzer and Jon Lester

The New York Yankees have question marks galore in their starting rotation. CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka and Ivan Nova are injury risks. Michael Pineda and Shane Greene bring questions of consistency with them to spring training. Hiroki Kuroda is a free agent who could either retire or return to Japan.

Logically, one would have to think that the team would at least look into signing Lester or Max Scherzer. Mark Feinsand and Bill Madden of the New York Daily News report otherwise:

“According to a source, the Yankees have no plans to pursue either Scherzer or Lester, the top two free agents on the market this winter. [James] Shields, the third-best free-agent starter, is also off the Bombers’ radar…”

Lester and Scherzer are impact arms capable of changing the outlook of a team’s season. Both are perennial Cy Young candidates, and to hear that the Yankees apparently aren’t interested in bringing one of them aboard is strange considering the team has now failed to make the playoffs in back-to-back seasons.

That’s good news for other high bidders, though, because it means there is less competition. The Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels, Boston Red Sox and New York Mets are typically a few of the high bidders, so they are teams to look out for in the chase for both aces.


Follow Kenny DeJohn on Twitter: @kennydejohn

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Oakland A’s: 5 Things to Look for in Series vs. Seattle Mariners

The Oakland A’s deserve some much-needed home cooking, particularly after the grueling three-game series against the Boston Red Sox over the weekend. All three games were intense, as the A’s were strongly tested by the World Series champions.

Oakland escaped with a 10-inning victory on Sunday to take the last game in the series, avoiding a sweep by doing so. Each contest was a struggle for the Athletics. In fact, in all three facets of the game—pitching, hitting and fielding—the A’s were generally outplayed. On the cusp of being swept out of Boston on the heels of an inspiring three-game sweep of their own of the Texas Rangers, it was a great win for the Athletics.

But there is no time to rest and reflect for the A’s. Following their cross-country 10-game road trip, the team immediately flew back to Oakland to begin a 10-game homestand that has a unique twist. Starting Monday, the Seattle Mariners pay another visit to the Oakland Coliseum for four games in three days; a doubleheader is scheduled for Wednesday to atone for the “washout” that occurred in early April.

After this series is over, the A’s will have played the M’s 10 times in their first 45 games this season. The Mariners are obviously a ballclub with which the Athletics are overly familiar.

Here are five things to look for in the upcoming series against the Seattle Mariners.

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