Rays reassure Kazmir as rumors swirl
Speculation nothing new for lefty with Deadline nearing
ST. PETERSBURG -- Amidst swirling trade rumors involving his name, Scott Kazmir said on Monday that his agent, Brian Peters, reached out to Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman recently to determine whether the left-hander was being shopped around.
With the non-waiver Trade Deadline approaching on Friday, Kazmir's name has been rumored in deals involving several different teams. But the 25-year-old southpaw said on Monday that Friedman indicated to Peters that the rumors were merely speculative.
"It was very vague, it was nothing," Kazmir said. "It was just like the talks can happen from wherever, but there's really nothing to it."
Kazmir signed a $39.5 million extension in May 2008 that guarantees him $6 million this year, $8 million in '10 and $12 million in '11.
This has been the toughest season in Kazmir's bright career after he spent 33 games on the disabled list with a strained right quad and has struggled reorganizing his mechanics and rebuilding his confidence. He's 4-6 with a 6.69 ERA in 14 starts in 2009 after he went 12-8 with a 3.49 ERA last season and started Game 1 of the '08 World Series for the Rays.
Kazmir will make his 15th start of the season against the Yankees on Tuesday.
When asked if the trade rumors have been a distraction, Kazmir said he has tried hard not to be bothered by it.
"I don't think anything of it," Kazmir said. "If it happens, it happens, so why worry about it? I want to be here. That's the reason why I signed here. I'm just looking forward, looking forward to every five days when I'm pitching."
It's not the first time Kazmir's name has been rumored to be on the block. Though his contract size may be deemed a hindrance, his age and experience make him a valued target for teams.
Five years ago, Kazmir was part of a Trade Deadline deal that sent him from the Mets to the Rays in exchange for Victor Zambrano. After establishing himself as the foremost pitcher in Tampa Bay history, he's just trying to stay focused on his current role while ignoring the trade speculation once again.
"You can't really take it too hard, because it could be rumors that don't have anything solid," Kazmir said. "It could be just rumors, just people talking."
Zach Schonbrun is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.