Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Texas Rangers Should Keep Their Eye on Pitcher Scott Kazmir

The Los Angeles Angels seem to be ready to give up on pitcher Scott Kazmir not only after a brutal 2010 season but after a rough spring training as well.

The problem is, Kazmir still has $25.5 million left on his contract but that doesn't include a $2.5 million buyout. Those numbers alone would scare off just about any team wanting to acquire him. Except, there is one team who could trade contract for contract.

The Texas Rangers.

It's no secret the Rangers have been trying to find a deal for long time infielder Michael Young but teams haven't been willing to take half of his contract to get the deal done. Something the Rangers have required of any team wanting to get involved.

It wouldn't be a cheap proposition but one the Rangers may need to think about. Right hander Tommy Hunter is going to miss the first six weeks of the season thanks to a groin strain and ace C.J. Wilson departed a spring training game a few days ago with tightness in his hamstring.

On paper, the Rangers' rotation doesn't look like anything that would keep them in the AL West race past the All-Star break, especially not with the changes the Oakland A's and the Angels have made. They're not going to run away with this race.

Kazmir did struggle last season, going 9-15 through 28 starts with a 5.94 ERA. Needless to say, he's not exactly the pitcher the Angels thought they were getting when they acquired him from the Tampa Bay Rays.

I talked to Angels' beat writer, Mike DiGiovanna about Kazmir's situation and he told me, "Kazmir is virtually untradeable because of his contract. If he struggles, they will just release him and eat $14.5 million."

While it may not be the best time to make a deal just yet, this is a pitcher the Rangers should at least inquire about. Maybe there is a deal to be made where they can include Michael Young to not only get his contract off the books but bring in a starter they could be needing in a month or so.

If young pitchers Derek Holland or Matt Harrison begin to struggle, the Rangers don't exactly have a deep minor league system to be able to replace them with two other young pitchers unless you're talking about former Fresno State standout, Tanner Scheppers. But even he isn't ready to contribute to a big league team just yet.

I'm not saying this is a deal the Rangers are even going to approach. All I'm saying is, it's something this team should be diligent about because at 27-years old, he's still someone pitching coach Mike Maddux can do tremendous work with.

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