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Trading Scott Kazmir?

Joe Sheehan recently wrote an article over at BPro about how the Rays should trade Scott Kazmir.  I, well, agree.  Let's let the November 2008 version of me make set up the line of reasoning

To be clear, I have nothing against Scott Kazmir.  He's put up some excellent seasons and has the potential to be a Cy Young winner.  But given the way Tampa Bay's organization is aligned, trading him probably makes the team better.  Getting rid of him isn't the goal -- it's what he'll return that is the reward.

The thing Scott Kazmir has working against him isn't his talent, it's that he's going to average about $11M per year in salary over the next two to three seasons.  For as good as you can expect him to be (a bit below a 4.00 ERA guy in 160 to 180 IP, or about 3.5 WAR), that's the type of price tag that the Rays, with a $60M payroll want to load up on.  It is, however, a contract extremely friendly to other teams.  For example, it's significantly less than what AJ Burnett and Derek Lowe signed for.  Plus it includes an option year, and Kazmir's a better pitcher at a better age than those other two guys.

In November's article I suggested trading Kazmir for a stud young outfielder, but with the Edwin Jackson for Matt Joyce swap, that road has already been traveled (in poor-man's form).  What the Rays could really use now are a couple soon-to-be-MLB-ready stud prospects, either behind the plate, at first base, in the middle infield, or on the pitching side.  Texas (a catcher and starter) and Oakland (starters and an OF/1B big bat) could be potential players in a couple months, as well as a number of other teams.

As the Rays' talented young players rack up service time, their costs will skyrocket.  Andrew Friedman needs to be willing to trade players in their prime in return for the next crop of stars in order to keep his payroll in line with ownership's expectations.  It's not a situation of giving away Kazmir, but instead a situation of trading the more expensive stars for the sequel in order to keep the Rays competitive on a consistent basis.

Good point, Mr. Sheehan.