The Oakland A's introduced the newest member of their starting rotation on Wednesday, as they announced that Scott Kazmir had officially signed his two-year, $22 million agreement with the team. The deal had first been reported by Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports on Monday.
Kazmir joins the A's after a comeback season with the Cleveland Indians in 2013. Kazmir spent the 2012 out of affiliated baseball and pitching in the independent leagues. The Indians invited Kazmir to spring training and he made the team after showing a rebound in his velocity, which had dipped dramatically during his stint with the Los Angeles Angels in 2009-2011.
The 2002 first-round pick of the New York Mets had a strong season for the Indians. He went 10-9 with a 4.04 ERA in 29 starts. In 158 innings, Kazmir struck-out 162 and he walked only 47. He was particularly dominating down-the-stretch for Cleveland, which earned a Wild Card spot. In September and October, he had a 2.57 ERA and a 43:4 K:BB in 28 innings (five starts).
Kazmir battled arm problems for most of his tenure with the Angels and saw his fastball velocity dip to the mid 80s by the end of his time with the Halos. Healthy with Cleveland, Kazmir's fastball averaged 92.3 MPH last season, according to FanGraphs.com's Pitch F/X.
With the addition of Kazmir, the A's currently have eight pitchers on the 40-man roster who made starts at the major league level last year: Kazmir, Brett Anderson, Jarrod Parker, A.J. Griffin, Dan Straily, Sonny Gray, Tommy Milone and Josh Lindblom. Oakland also signed minor league free agent Philip Humber earlier this off-season, and he has several years of major league experience. The A's are likely to trade one of those pitchers before the start of spring training, with Anderson being the most likely to be dealt because of his high salary.
To make room for Kazmir on the A's 40-man roster, the team designated left-hander Andrew Werner for assignment. Werner was acquired by the A's last off-season in a deal with the San Diego Padres that sent Tyson Ross to the Friars.
Werner came into spring training with a chance to earn a spot either in the A's rotation or their bullpen, but he struggled during the spring. Those struggles continued during his first month with Triple-A Sacramento when he had an ERA higher than 8 and he walked 12 in 27.2 innings. Werner made a few mechanical adjustments at that point, and he pitched much better the rest of the season. However, he still finished the year with a 5.78 ERA (3.71 ERA after the All-Star break).
Werner is a finesse lefty with good command (he walked 38 in 165 innings) who can fill a role either as a starter or a long reliever. He began his professional career pitching in the independent leagues before signing with San Diego before the 2011 season. He made his major league debut in 2012, making eight starts for the Padres. This is the first time he has been designated for assignment, so if he clears waivers, he can be outrighted by the A's to Triple-A.
Werner's spot on the 40-man roster became precarious when the A's acquired Lindblom on Tuesday from Texas. Although right-handed, Lindblom can fill the same role Werner did last season, serving as Triple-A depth for the A's rotation and bullpen.