Yankees free agent target: Scott Kazmir

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The once injury-ridden Kazmir has turned his career around in 2013, but how well would he fit in pinstripes?

If history had gone differently, Scott Kazmir could have pitched in New York – not for the Yankees, but the New York Mets. Drafted by the Mets as the 15th overall pick in the 2002 draft, Kazmir was by far the Mets' most promising pitching prospect. He quickly ascended through their minor league system and was nearly Major League ready by 2004. Instead of giving him a shot, the Mets traded him to the then Tampa Bay Devil Rays for Victor Zambrano and Bartolomé Fortunato. The Mets quickly learned how horrible of a mistake that was (at least from 2004 to 2009), as Kazmir went on to put up stellar numbers: from 2004 to 2009, he recorded 17.5 fWAR (2.92 fWAR/year), an ERA of 3.83, an ERA+ of 116, two All-Star appearances, and was the AL strikeout leader in 2007.

After that early success, the negative started to pile on. In 2009, Kazmir began to deal with elbow problems, which then led to issues with his mechanics. Then in the 2010 season, more problems arose with his shoulder and hamstring. Even though he was able to finish that season, he finished with an atrocious ERA of 5.94. Kazmir spent 2011 and 2012 in the minors sorting out his command issues and building his velocity back to pre-injury levels. In 2013, he made his comeback. He was able to record 2.5 fWAR (something not seen since 2009), a not-so-bad ERA of 4.04, but with much better peripherals: an FIP and xFIP of 3.51 and 3.36, respectively.

Even given this renewal, is Kazmir worth the Yankees' time? Given that he will likely command approximately $10 million a year for one or two years, he isn't all that attractive to begin with. The Yankees are looking to sign serious impact players, not someone with a long history of injuries and who may or may not completely waste that money. The other issue is that he is fly ball pitcher. His left-handedness will help him to keep balls away from the short porch, but there is the fear that he would be Phil Hughes 2.0. I don't see any possible world where his HR/FB% of 11.6% for the Indians goes down in Yankee Stadium. The Yankees do have an obvious need for pitching, but with the type of money that could be spent on Kazmir, it may be wiser to invest in a more sure bet.

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