Most of the starting pitchers who have been connected to the Pirates have been reclamation projects, and one of those starters went off the board today when Trevor Cahill re-signed with the Cubs. The latest rumor from Travis Sawchik has the Pirates looking at a different class of starter.
Pirates will meet with Scott Kazmir's representation here in Nashville, per source
— Travis Sawchik (@Travis_Sawchik) December 7, 2015
This probably doesn’t tell us much, since these are the winter meetings, and teams spend this time meeting with other teams, players, and agents. It does show that there is interest in Kazmir from the Pirates’ side, even if that’s only to check on price and interest from Kazmir. The price could be high, according to Ken Rosenthal.
Some agents believe that Kazmir will aim higher than Iwakuma’s three-year, $45M deal. Younger than Iwakuma, no draft pick attached.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 7, 2015
The lack of draft pick compensation makes Kazmir very appealing. He’s averaged about 2.8 WAR in each of the last three seasons, which would put his price at about $16.8 M at $6 M per WAR. He’s also a lefty who will be 32 next year, with a history of injury problems, so that has to be considered. That said, the high prices on the current market might make that irrelevant. If J.A. Happ can get $12 M per year guaranteed for three years at a year older than Kazmir and with less of a track record, then Kazmir could expect a pretty big deal.
To his credit, Kazmir has pitched 180+ innings in each of the last two seasons, and pitched 163 innings between the minors and majors in 2013 after missing most or all of the previous two seasons. The Pirates have also done a good job of keeping players healthy at the major league level, including the historically injury prone Francisco Liriano.
Kazmir would be a great fit for the Pirates. They could afford him if they ended up shedding salary with trades of Mark Melancon and/or Neil Walker. That would probably be their big addition of the off-season if it played out, with the other additions being lower cost guys in terms of payroll.
It’s not out of the question that the Pirates would spend to get a guy like Kazmir. Last off-season they brought Francisco Liriano back at three years and $39 M. Kazmir would probably cost more, but wouldn’t be out of their price range.