Pirates Could Make a Run at Scott Kazmir

Matt Gajtka is reporting that the Pirates have intensified their talks with free agent pitcher Scott Kazmir, according to an industry source. We have heard that the Pirates have interest in Kazmir, but it sounds like they have stepped up their pursuit of the 31-year-old(32 in January) lefty.

Kazmir split this last season between the Oakland A’s and the Houston Astros. He posted a 3.10 ERA in 183 innings,  with a 1.21 WHIP and 155 strikeouts. In 2014, he had a 3.55 ERA in 190.1 innings, with 164 strikeouts and a 1.16 WHIP.  His FIP was 3.98 in 2015, so that’s a big difference from his season ERA, but it was 3.35 in 2014. He pitched much better in the first half this season(2.49 ERA before the All-Star break), though the move to a more hitter-friendly ballpark in late-July may have played a big role in that.

  • they should have drafted him instead of Maholm to start

  • I rather have mike leake than kazmir….leake can hit.

  • Sign Kazmir and move Morton in a deal for Moreland. We then have 4 lefties in the rotation…against division foes who have struggled against lefties.

  • Hyun-Soo Kim, who is nicknamed the “Hitting Machine” in Korea.

    The left-handed hitter has authored a .318/.406/.488 hitter as a professional in Korea and is coming off his best season: a .326/.438/.541 batting line with a career-high 28 home runs. Kim struck out just 63 times in 630 plate appearances in 2015 (10 percent) against an impressive 101 walks.

    Again – This is the kind of player I’d rather see the team invest in than Kasmir. An on base machine with an eye and some power. It makes the team better. He’s a natural too entering the league at 18 years of age. Forget Kasmir and sign Kim!

  • Asdrubal Cabrera at 2b is also a decent fit, 29 years old with about the same bat as Walker.
    Might cost as much or more than Neil though.

  • Wondering what it might cost to bring David Freese in? I could see him being a 3b/1b guy – adding flexibility to the lineup and bench and should be affordable at this point. Kind of a replacement for Walker in terms of bat really.

  • For the 4 lefties in the rotation talk, they still could bring in a reclamation project thats right handed (masterson)

  • I’m not a huge Neise fan, but why spend on him and Kasmir when the team obviously just lost 40 home runs between Pedro and Neil, we need offense. If we’re going to drop coin, lets get a bat. Kasmir is a risky play too, he’s at least as risky as Neise IMO>

    • Homeruns are pretty, but not pretty important.

      I’d’ve traded all of Pedro’s bombs for a first baseman who hit half as many but was a plus fielder.

      • Just average would work. Who remembers the great fielding first baseman? K. Hernandez and M. Grace come to mind. But they both hit 280-300 annually too. Not much power.

    • There are not a whole lot of bat options out there. Most are OF, which they don’t need. I’d love to see them sign Davis, but I don’t think this team will ever commit 20m+ for 5+ years to one player. They don’t want to take the risk of being saddled with that contract. .

    • KC did pretty damn good last year without hitting too many homeruns, playing good defense, and pitching well. I won’t miss Pedro one bit.

  • Just saw Hurdle interview, was asked about #3 starter, said it was top of to do list. Which is somewhat relieving. Niese isnt their #3 guy and its good to know that they didnt plan on that being the case. Lets see what else they do.

    • Jeffrey Bruner
      December 9, 2015 6:22 pm

      Yeah, I never thought Niese was going to be the #3 but instead a way to part with either Locke or Morton.

  • Tyson Ross from the Padres is apparently available, I’m not going to speculate on what to give up to get him. But over all I think that would be a better and cheaper move than Scott Kazmir

    • Cheaper in terms of money but expensive in terms of prospects. I’d prefer losing money vs prospects

  • I’m not sure that jayhey at 2b full season isn’t an overall upgrade (defense included) over walker. Moves aren’t made in a vacuum

  • Clint hurdle on mlb channel ” we love lefthanded pitching” hmmm ,does he love 4 lefties in the rotation.

    • Kazmir gets signed, Locke wont be in rotation for long. Glasnow would be taking his spot by June.

      • Ill bet you money they totally get rid of Morton before totally getting rid of Locke.

        Hell, even Morton may make more sense in the bullpen since he can get RHH out at a decent clip. Fungible long relief in situational use.

        • decent chance Morton is gone, agreed…

          If you sign Kazmir…you would have 6 guys for 5 spots. Cole, Liriano, Kazmir, Niese, Morton, Locke.

          Morton gets traded, Locke is moved out of rotation in June for Glasnow.

          Ending rotation could look like Cole, Liriano, Kazmir, Niese, Glasnow

          • Something like that seems fair.

            Only quibble i have is that id guess its Taillon before Glasnow, but thats a personal preference thing as to which of those two is closest to the majors from a talent standpoint. They play Taillon’s early season usage right and they can get him enough innings at the end of the year without going over a big limit.

            • Well Taillon hasnt pitched in nearly 2 seasons, I think if hes up by July/August that would be a major victory, but I dont know. Glasnow is definitely the guy who is the closest. He just looks ready.

              • What makes you say he looks ready? Was it his start on Aug. 6th when he went 4 2/3 and gave up 3 hits and walked 6? Maybe it was his start of Sept. 1st when he went 1/3 of an inning with 1 H and 5 walks? Oh, yeah, there were 4 starts in between those, where he totalled 10 walks in 23 1/3 innings.

                Or maybe you are impressed with the scouting reports on his changeup. Basically, they are all pretty negative on that subject.

                Think back to 2010 when Buc fans were clamoring to see Pedro Alvarez in the majors even though he was having problems with AAA breaking balls.. How did that turn out? Do you want Tyler Glasnow to be the pitching analog to Pedro?

          • I would like to have 8 guys for 5 spots. Better chance of finding someone good out of the last 5.

            • Not so much good, as healthy.

              If I’m not mistaken, the Pirates had Cumpton, Kingham, and Sadler in their top 10 rotation arms coming out of ST.

              Depth vanishes quickly.

  • Now its time to take TEX up on that Morton for Moreland trade. Gives you the salary relief you wanted for Walker, fills depth at 1B, and gives us a wee bit more to throw at a #3.

    Morton for Moreland, Kazmir. Badda boom.

    • That’s the same thing I was thinking. They would then be set everywhere but bench

    • Jeffrey Bruner
      December 9, 2015 4:56 pm

      Makes sense. I think they can sign Kazmir first though if needed. Morton has enough value that you can deal him later without worries about not being able to find a taker for him.

  • Said this in another thread, but I live in Houston and saw Kazmir struggle to get out of the 3rd inning throughout September. Not sure if he just got tired or something happened but he fell off the planet at the end of the season….so I’m a little scared of this guy

    • I noticed that too, but I am guessing the Pirates will perform their due diligence here.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    December 9, 2015 4:08 pm

    I am all in favor of pursuing Kazmir, as Niese is a #4 at best, likely a #5. But, how does getting Walker off the books open up things for the Pirates to take on Kazmir – when Niese makes within a $1-2m of what Walker does? Can someone explain where these huge savings are as a result of the Walker-Niese trade?

    • Walker was a luxury at 2B. Making his contract less valuable to the Pirates. They needed pitching and have the resources to replace Walker. Its not about cost cutting as it is reallocating to a position of need.

    • I dont love the Niese move, but “at his best” he’s a fringe #3. He’s not far removed from throwing far better than Locke or Morton, so fans that love to make fun of those names should at least think “hey, he has better upside than the two guys i hate.”

    • It’s not savings it’s trading for need

      • BuccosFanStuckinMD
        December 9, 2015 4:31 pm

        And Niese fills what need? We already had 2 other guys who are #4-#5 types in Morton and Locke…is Niese much better to justify $10m a year?

        • Oh now we are fine with Morton and Locke as 4-5.

          A week ago both were fringe #5s who basically sucked but this team puts up with. Niese is an upgrade over at least one of those two, and i thought that was what many fans wouldnt shut up about.

        • NH and his staff must think so, and I trust their opinion more than anyone else.

        • I don’t love the Walker trade either…but Niese’s career numbers are much better than Happ at less cost…if we can make him even a little better (like we did with Happ) you’ll get some real value there…especially with his age and contract. Probably is better than Locke and Morton right now…with some tweets he might be some decent value…I’d still like more pitching.

    • Think of it this way. Let’s say before the deal the Pirates figured they had $15M to spend on 2 pitchers, with all other current contracts remaining the same. By dealing Neil for Niese at the same cost, they now have that $15M to spend on just 1 pitcher.

      • That’s not taking value into account. You gave up two wins to get Niese.

        • Gave up two, likely brought back at least 1. Harrison likely to be at least a 1 WAR player.

          So you lost some value on the bench, since Harrison wont be a bench player at all. Re creating what Walker brought might not be as scary as we think.

          Harrison throws out a 1.5 WAR season, Niese is better but not great and is 1-1.5 WAR. Needing a .5-1 WAR type off the bench to seemingly have the team not lose much value from Walker while filling a need at SP.*

          *Assuming they find another SP that allows them to move/demote a current option to bullpen. More flexibility.

          • You’re describing how other moves can make up for this one, which isn’t the point.

            • Smh. Another asset dealt and 9 million dollars spent because drafted arms weren’t ready.

            • I’m not seeing how this is (an)other move. It’s simply slipping Harrison into the lineup in place of Walker.

              • Which simply moves value around, does not add any.

                • Or it allows them to fully utilize assets.

                  Harrison, it appears is a good ballplayer. 2015 was probably a closer representation of his his talents then 2014, though. With Polanco’s progress and Kang’s play, it’s doubtful he’d see a ton of AB’s unless it was subbing for Mercer.

                  So that 1-2 WAR was going to be sitting on the bench, struggling for playing time.

                  Defense at second gets better if he plays. Batting production drops a tad. Overall, I’m guessing he’ll finish the season within pretty close to Walker’s output WAR-wise…which he wouldn’t have been able to do on the bench. So, the team doesn’t lose much. Instead it gains a guy who could easily turn into a solid member of the rotation for as many as three seasons.

                  The only thing the Pirates really need to do after making this swap is to backfill Harrison’s role with someone capable. I know, I know…you’re hoping they bring S. Rod back, but I’d hope they see if Jose Oquendo wants to come out of retirement first.


                  For the record, I’m not saying this is a great move…it carries risk. There is the potential this could blow up in the Pirates face if:

                  Kang’s going to miss significant time,
                  Mercer totally disappears against for the first half of the season,
                  The Pirates fail to adequately stock their bench…carrying Florimon as the back-up infielder isn’t going to cut it.

                  Yeah, it could go wrong…but I think it’s what small market teams have to do. They grabbed a guy who has the potential to fill the #3/4 slot for the next three years at reclamation cost…and all they had to give up is a second baseman with back issues who wasn’t going to stick with the team after 2015.

            • It inherently is when discussing how the trade can make sense for PGH. If you only look at Walker vs Niese value, it ignores aspects of why each side may feel the trade is quality.

              Both fit team needs, with PGH able to replace Walker while filling a big need.

        • Unless he pitches better for Pirates, just as virtually every other SP acquisition has for the last 3-4 years.

    • I think Tim and others get the savings by assuming adding another starter means Morton will be traded. I think he’s on the books for something like $8M. So you trade Walker ($10M) and Morton ($8M) for Niese ($9M). That obviously doesn’t account for whatever salary you take on in the Morton trade, but that’s where the savings is I think.

    • Don’t think in terms of money. Think of it as a pairs trade when the Pirates trade Morton for Moreland.
      2nd base opened for better defense by someone with better WAR than Pedro.
      Three positions are strengthened: #4 pitcher, 2nd, 1st.
      In this context NH is doing good work.

      • I agree this trade makes a ton of sense if they pull the Morton for Moreland deal. We would essentially tread water in the rotation while shifting depth at 2B toward a hole at 1B…..but the other shoe hasn’t dropped yet. The Cubs executed a package move yesterday by signing Zobrist and trading Castro, and those deals were released almost simultaneously. If a Moreland deal isn’t announced tomorrow, its not likely gonna happen.

        • The cubs, cards, reds feast on rhp, struggle against lhp. Morton’s mix of pitches are usually ineffective against LH hitters. Changing Morton for Niese automatically makes the Pirates stronger versus divisional opponents.

  • 4 Lefties seems a little odd

  • Andrew Rothstein
    December 9, 2015 4:07 pm

    that story doesn’t make much sense as walker’s salary has just been relaced by Niese’s

    • My initial thought is that if they sign him they trade Locke no need for 4 LHPs

    • I think perhaps they knew they wanted to bring in two SPs regardless, so saving money in the infield is one way to make that happen.

    • You are not looking at apples to apples to compare Walker at $10m and Niese at $9m and suggest it was a replacement. We had to pay for pitching anyway. Whether we got two from the free agent market or we traded.

      • BuccosFanStuckinMD
        December 9, 2015 4:12 pm

        How about we use our young prospects instead, wouldn’t that have saved a ton of money? We could then have pursued a real first baseman, not dumpster diving. Would you feel better about Glasnow and Taillon in the rotation, or Niese and Morton/Locke?

        • I don’t think Glasnow or Taillon (if healthy) are ready. They might be mid-season. Neise has a few option and Kazmir will likely get three years. Nothing says that we can’t trade one or both of those players during the season or after it.

          • BuccosFanStuckinMD
            December 9, 2015 4:22 pm

            Even if “not ready”, whatever that means, I would much rather have a stud like Glasnow pitching against the Cubs then Niese….even if that means he’s occasionally wild….

            • Not ready means he’s simply not ready. The kid is young and needs time to develop. I’d rather have him figure things out in the minors then come help the pirates.

            • Not ready means they’ll come up and have a poor chance of success and people will be yelling about how they are bums and should be run out of town.

        • Would you rather have 2 months of Tyler Glasnow at the beginning of his rookie season or an extra full season of him in his prime?

          • Here comes the “Glasnow is ready, he’s a #4 SP right now.”

            MD doesnt go to church, he prays at the alter of Tyler Glasnow.

            • BuccosFanStuckinMD
              December 9, 2015 4:32 pm

              I would hope he’d be better than #4, even from the start #3 possibly….your other comment was as stupid as most of your other immature retorts. Grow up or do me a favor and stop responding to anything I post…

              • You say the same thing about Glasnow over and over, so yes i poked fun at you. Apologies for basically accurately portraying what you just said.

                No one beyond you thinks he’s near a #3 pitcher right now, and you say it over and over and act like others cant poke fun at that unwilling devotion to a guy who cant throw strikes 1 game out of 3.

                • I agree he’s not ready either, but on the other hand Locke had 10 quality starts out of 30. Perhaps he’s not ready either, or he just sucks

              • BFSMD,

                With all respect, if you want to see how Glasnow would perform at the Major League level now, with no additional refinement of his arsenal, look at Archie Bradley of the D-Backs. Consensus top-25 prospect 4 years running, power fastball, plus curve when he can control it. no real 3rd pitch, has all kinds of trouble finding the plate. Great talent, but a work in progress.

                He showed some flashes of brilliance, but on the balance major leaguers ate Bradley up in his 8 starts in the bigs – 5.80 ERA, 5.6 walks per 9 innings. THAT is very likely what you would get from Tyler Glasnow if you threw him to the wolves now, and that is nowhere near a #3 or #4 starter.

                Now, you want to give him 15-25 starts in Indy and THEN bring him up to finish his development in Pittsburgh, and you’ll have a #3/#4 SP, and with any luck a #2 in 2017 and an ace for the next 5 seasons.

        • At the beginning of the year? I would rather have Niese, morton or locke…after june is a different story.

    • Saves $2 million
      And decent starting pitchers are much more valuable than decent hitting poor fielding 2nd basemen
      And 2nd base being a non- premium position as well