Rumors: Washington Nationals Interested In Scott Kazmir


The Washington Nationals are reportedly looking at adding a starting pitcher and they are interested in Scott Kazmir.

Today, the Washington Nationals have been in the news on both starting and relief pitching. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports and MLB Network tweeted that the deal to sign reliever Shawn Kelley is now final. Now, the Nats have shifted their focus to the starting pitching front.

Earlier in the day, it was reported that the Nationals have offered Mike Leake a contract. However, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and MLB Network, the Nats are no longer pursuing a deal for Leake and have shifted their focus elsewhere:

Could one of those other options end up being Scott Kazmir? According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Nationals are one of the teams that are interested in Kazmir:

Just like Leake, the Nats would not have to give up the 17th pick in this year’s draft draft if they sign Kazmir because he was traded midseason and could not be given a qualifying offer. Kazmir was traded from the Oakland A’s to the Astros last July after posting a 2.38 ERA (5-5 record) in 18 starts.

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After joining the Astros, Kazmir was 2-6 with a 4.17 ERA in 13 starts during the regular season. He was 0-2 with a 6.52 ERA in six appearances and opponents were hitting .328 against him with eight home runs. The left-hander, who will be 32 in January, has been in the American League his entire Major League career. While the New York Mets chose Kazmir with the 15th pick in the 2002 MLB Draft, he was traded two years later to the Rays in a deal that included Victor Zambrano. Kazmir had a 3.92 ERA in six seasons with the Rays and was on the 2008 team that made the World Series.

The Rays would trade Kazmir to the Angels in 2009 and he would have a 1.73 ERA in six games with Los Angeles and was part of the team that made the ALCS (lost to the Yankees in six games). He was with the Angels until June 2011, when the team cut him. He would be out of the game for the 2012 season before joining the Indians in 2013.

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After one year in Cleveland (10-9, 4.04 ERA), Kazmir signed a two-year, $22 million deal with the Oakland Athletics and would end up winning 15 games in his first season and made his third All-Star team. His other two All-Star appearances came with the Rays in 2006 and 2008.

When you look at Kazmir’s pitch arsenal, he has a fastball with an average velocity of 91 miles per hour (according to Fangraphs), a changeup, cutter, slider, and curveball. He walked three batters per nine innings this season with Oakland/Houston and his strikeout rate went down from 9.2 in 2013 with the Indians to 7.6 this season.

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If I had to choose between Kazmir and Leake, I would go with Leake because he has the track reord in the National League and has pitched for Dusty Baker in Cincinnati. However, Kazmir wouldn’t be a horrible plan B with Leake no longer looking like a possibility to be in a Nats uniform because it would allow them to keep their draft pick and add another veteran starter to the rotation.