Until his career fell into a tailspin back in 2009, any mention of Scott Kazmir's name made Mets fans cringe. After all, the ill-fated Jim Duquette trade made back in 2004 had become a cautionary tale for trading prospects for rentals (really bad rentals) and had already turned into arguably the franchise's worst trade in history.
Now, after a few up-and-down seasons, Kazmir's name does not bring back such harsh memories, which is good, because he is a name Mets fans will be hearing about all offseason as a possible starter to plug into the back-end of the rotation for 2014.
In 2013, Kazmir managed to bounce back nicely with the Indians, with whom he had signed a "reclamation project" minor league contract last winter. He went on to post a respectable 4.04 ERA with an even better 3.51 FIP and an impressive 9.2 K/9 mark, his best since 2008. Additionally, he seemed to get better as the season went on, probably because he was pitching in his first full big league season in three years. While he pitched to a 4.60 ERA during the first half of the season, he fared much better in the second half as he registered a 3.38 ERA the rest of the way.
While his ERA doesn't knock anyone's socks off, it appears to be enough to get him a sizable long term commitment similar to Jeremy Guthrie's. And after all, as David Cameron says, ERA might not be that important anymore, which then turns one's eyes to his better peripheral stats. In the end, Guthrie's three-year, $25 million deal could be Kazmir's target due to his better season yet more erratic track record with Joe Blanton's two-year, $15 million pact representing a lower, yet still reasonable target.
The fit is obvious. The Mets have money to spend and two rotation spots open. Sandy Alderson and company will probably balk at the asking prices for other top starters and could look towards other less expensive options such as Kazmir. However, if Kazmir indeed ends up requiring a Guthrie-esque guarantee, it remains to be seen if that will fit into Alderson's plans. The GM has stated in the past the team's need for financial flexibility and Frank Francisco's $12MM abomination being the largest contract Alderson has handed out during his tenure. While he might finally have the kind of financial flexibility he needs, Alderson might not view Kazmir as the kind of calculated risk the team needs to take this offseason.