Yesterday I talked about the first of two major trades for the Rays involving Scott Kazmir. The first was probably the bigger steal, getting Scott Kazmir for a mediocre, overpaid Victor Zambrano, but the second has turned out to be pretty good as well. On August 29, 2009 the Rays dealt their beloved starter Kazmir for Matt Sweeney, Alex Torres, and a player to be named later. The player to be named later was named on September 1, with the Rays getting Sean Rodriguez, the cornerstone of the package for the Rays.
The package the Rays got back hasn’t been great yet, but Kazmir’s failure for the Angels made the deal worthwhile. Kazmir had begun to show signs of struggle with the Rays in 2009, but the Rays were able to deal him to the Angels with the Angels thinking they can turn him around.
Kazmir gave them a glimmer of hope at the end of the 2009 season, starting 6 games and going 2-2 with a 1.73 ERA. He pitched like the Kazmir of old in the small sample for the Angels. But in 2010, it all turned south. Kazmir started 28 games, going 9-15 with a 5.94 ERA and a 1.58 WHIP. He made one appearance last season, allowing 5 earned in 1.2 innings before his release by the Angels. Kaz remains a free agent.
Not only did Kazmir struggle for the Angels, but he also was expensive. Kazmir made $8 million in 2010 and made $12 million in 2011 for his one appearance. The Rays got rid of him at the right time, getting a great package and dumping his large salary before things turned south.
As for what the Rays got, Sean Rodriguez has yet to live up to his potential at the big league level. He has still been good for the Rays, however, providing a good middle infield option for the last two seasons, even if the bat hasn’t been up to par with what you would like. Rodriguez hit a respectable .251 with 9 homers in 2010 and hit .223 with 8 homers in 2011. You would hope for better, but he is still young at 26 and will be given the chance to get the starting shortstop role or at least split it with Reid Brignac in 2012.
As for Alex Torres, he is still a very young, good prospect. Torres made four appearances with the Rays last year, logging 8 innings and allowing 3 earned. His last appearance was by far his best, pitching 5 shutout innings in mop-up duty against Toronto on September 24. Torres most likely will spend most of next season in Durham, but could fill in for the Rays in case of injury. Matt Sweeney is no longer with the Rays, as he was lost in the Minor League portion of the Rule V draft.
All in all, Scott Kazmir was the main piece in two of the Rays biggest trades in franchise history. The second one was not as much the package they received in return, which was still good, but the fact that they beat Kazmir’s sharp decline. Kazmir appears to have fallen into oblivion, as he is still a free agent after being released by the Angels early last season. Time will tell how Sean Rodriguez and Alex Torres perform in a Rays uniform, but this deal is still a win for the Rays.