Grading the Signing: Dodgers Sign Scott Kazmir

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Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Scott Kazmir throws against the Seattle Mariners in the second inning of a baseball game Sunday, April 13, 2014, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

The Los Angeles Dodgers entered this offseason with pitching on their mind. Clearly, observers agreed, the Dodgers would either re-sign superstar pitcher Zack Greinke or would replace him with one of the top aces available on the market.

The Dodgers did neither. They got outbid by the Arizona Diamondbacks, a division rival, in the Greinke sweepstakes (the Dodgers’ only consolation was that their archrivals, the San Francisco Giants, were also spurned). Then the Dodgers watched as other teams plucked up the most attractive pitching candidates on the market. The San Francisco Giants took Johnny Cueto, while the Dodgers negotiated with Hisashi Iwakuma – a deal that fell apart after they got a look at Iwakuma’s physical.

Now, finally, the Dodgers have made moves to shore up their weakened pitching corps. They’ve signed Japanese pitcher Kenta Maeda and 11-year MLB veteran Scott Kazmir. Today, we’re going to take a look at the Kazmir signing. Did the Dodgers make the right deal?

The Player

Kazmir debuted at just 20 years old, so despite accumulating more than a decade of MLB service time, he’s still just 31. That means he should still have some good years left ahead of him. He’s had a bit of an up-and-down career, logging WARs as high as 5.8 and as low as -0.8. That fluctuation is due in a large part to Kazmir’s tendency to get injured.

Kazmir had an ERA of 3.10 in the American League last year, where he pitched for both Oakland and Houston. He was worth 3.3 WAR last year, and has been worth 6.1 over the past three seasons. He’s been healthy for a few seasons in a row now.

The Deal

The Dodgers inked Kazmir for 3 years at $48 million, an average annual value (AAV) of $16 million. The Dodgers back-loaded the payments, though – they’ll be sending Kazmir cash until 2021. That will save them a little bit through inflation, though it will also keep Kazmir on their books for longer. Accounting for inflation, the AAV of this deal is actually probably closer to $15 million.

Grading the Deal

The Dodgers needed a pitcher, and now they’ve got one. On that basic level, this deal had to happen. But did the Dodgers get the right pitcher for their needs?

The problem with getting Kazmir right now is that you’re buying high. Kazmir had a bounce-back season last year, and he’s been healthy for a few years now. But Kazmir has been an injury risk for much of his career, and that could be problematic for the Dodgers. Now on the wrong side of 30, why should Kazmir be any healthier than he was in his 20s? And why would the Dodgers, who lost a ton of innings to injuries last year but survived thanks to their healthy Kershaw-Greinke tandem, want to add another injury-prone guy?

The Dodgers had to make this move at this point in the offseason. But if they could go back in time and bid higher on Greinke, perhaps they would.

Our grade: C

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