The Los Angeles Angels acquired left-handed starter Scott Kazmir from Tampa Bay for two minor leaguers, left-handed pitcher Alex Torres and third baseman Matt Sweeney, and a player to be named later on Friday, immediately strengthening their rotation for the stretch run.
Rarely have the Angels been short of pitching over the past several years, but in a twist, while they ranked second in the majors to the Yankees with 713 runs scored entering the weekend, their 4.87 team ERA ranked 26th in the majors. The Angels' rotation, which has been battered by injuries throughout the year, ranks 11th in the American League with a 4.96 ERA.
The move comes after Kazmir, 25, produced a fine start in Toronto for the Rays on Wednesday, allowing one earned run on four hits in a no-decision. Still, it's been a very disappointing season for Kazmir, who is 8-7 with a 5.92 ERA in 20 starts for the Rays. Opponents are batting .273 against him after hitting only .220 against him last year. His ERA has been over 6.00 all summer until now.
While a somewhat surprising move for Tampa Bay given that the Rays are attempting to hang in there in the AL wild-card race, the move would off-load $22.5 million guaranteed to Kazmir through 2012 and give them some maneuverability in other areas, such as picking up outfielder Carl Crawford's $10 million option.
The Rays are not exactly viewing this as waving the white flag, either. They can replace Kazmir in their rotation with Andy Sonnanstine, who won several big games last fall, or rookie Wade Davis. Both are pitching at Triple-A Durham right now. Davis' ceiling is very high, and some scouts expected him to be recalled to the Rays before even David Price this season.
According to a clause in his contract, Kazmir is owed an extra $800,000 if traded.
Kazmir would join John Lackey, Jered Weaver, Ervin Santana and Joe Saunders in a rotation that is healthier than it's been all summer. Being that he's signed through 2011 (with a $13.5 million club option for 2012), Kazmir also gives the Angels some insurance against Lackey leaving as a free agent this winter. If he does, the Angels still would have Kazmir, Santana and Saunders, among others, for 2010.
Kazmir, who cleared waivers before the deal, is eligible for postseason play because he was traded before Aug. 31.