2015 MLB Trade Deadline: Scott Kazmir to Houston Astros
The first shots of the 2015 MLB Non-wavier deadline have been fired. The Houston Astros and Oakland Athletics (arguably the two most sabermetrically minded organizations) began the deadline with a bang. The Oakland Athletics have traded starting pitcher Scott Kazmir to the Houston Astros in exchange for minor leaguers Daniel Mengden and Jacob Nottingham. Both players were among the Astros’ top 30 prospects according to MLB.com.
The Astros had been on the hunt for a starting pitcher for some time. As usual, the first trade is the hardest one to get off, but after that we can expect the floodgates to open as the market establishes itself. We’ll start by talking about what it means for each team and then get to what it means for you.
What does it mean for the Astros?
The Astros starting rotation presented Jeff Luhnow and company with some issues. They could man the five man rotation very easily through September, but if they make a postseason run they would likely come up a bit short as they were. Both Lance McCullers Jr. and Vincent Velasquez are rookies that will see their innings limited. McCullers has performed enough to become a playoff starter, but will likely be shut down in September. Velasquez just earned his first victory of the season, but is in the same boat.
Meanwhile, arms like Scott Feldman, Brett Oberholtzer, and Roberto Hernandez have left a lot to be desired at the bottom of the rotation. Enter Scott Kazmir. His 5-5 record and 2.38 ERA might be a bit above his head, but with Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh already on board, they just need a third arm to get them through a short playoff series. Even if pitches on the same level as McHugh, it will be better than what they had outside of McCullers and Velasquez.
Losing Jacob Nottingham and Daniel Mengden hurts some, but it is not nearly the package that a Cole Hamels, David Price, or Johnny Cueto would have cost them. Mind you, despite the numbers, they aren’t getting that kind of arm either. The biggest advantage is that they still have most of their top prospects if they want to make another move.
What does this mean for the Athletics?
It means that Billy Beane has officially decided to sell. They still have some other pieces. Ben Zobrist could end up being on the move in addition to Tyler Clippard. Mendgen and Nottingham won’t help immediately help the Athletics. However, this is where perception in the prospect world gets a little shaky. Mendgen ranked as the Astros 19th best prospect according to MLB.com and Nottingham ranked as their 22nd best prospect.
That being said, the Astros have frequently ranked as one of the more prospect rich farm systems. So, these two could easily rank amongst the Athletics top 15 prospects when everything reestablishes itself. So, the package might seem slight, but we also have to consider the circumstances. Kazmir will be a free agent after the season, so Beane gets two good prospects in exchange for two months of Kazmir. If he deals his other veterans then they could restock the farm system they dismantled last year to make a run for the postseason. Funny we use the word restock for an organization that treats players like stocks. He traded pretty high on Kazmir.
What does it mean for fantasy players?
According to baseball-reference.com, the Astros rank third in MLB with a .706 defense efficiency rating. The Athletics rank tenth with a .699 DER. So, he has benefitted from good fielding this season, but he is moving to a team with a better fielding record. Of course, that’s not the only consideration when it comes to dealing with the impact of a trade. We also have to consider the home ballparks.
- Numbers according to espn.com park factors as of July 22nd.
|Runs||0.969 (17)||0.914 (22)|
|Home Runs||0.824 (23)||1.194 (7)|
|Hits||1.007 (15)||0.914 (25)|
Kazmir’s FIP is currently standing at 3.09 largely because he plays in a spacious ballpark and is carrying a .265 BABIP into action with the Astros. Of course, the home ballparks seem fairly similar with the only major difference coming in home runs. The Astros are one of the few playoff contenders to be better defensively than the Athletics. I suppose it is reasonable to assume that he can possibly maintain his current level of pitching for the last two months.
I’m personally one of those folks that leaves the craps table when I’m ahead. I would look to deal Kazmir to an owner that is betting on Kazmir getting better. He could be coming into more victories, but he also has a history of arm problems. He has only one season with more than 200 innings and he’s already 31. I just don’t have a good feeling about him continuing on his current track.