08/29/09 12:25 AM ET
Angels add Kazmir, bolster rotation
Halos send three players to Rays in exchange for lefty
By Rhett Bollinger / MLB.com
The trade was announced before the second inning began at Angel Stadium because the Rays reportedly didn't want to announce the deal until after their game with the Tigers.
Angels general manager Tony Reagins spoke to reporters during the fourth inning of Friday's game, saying that the club had long coveted the 25-year-old left-hander and even inquired about him before this year's Trade Deadline.
"We've had conversations about Scott since the July 31 Trade Deadline," Reagins said. "Nothing materialized back then, but there were general conversations. We evaluated and monitored things over there, and they did that over here. We were looking for opportunities for us that make sense, not only in the short term, but in the long term."
But Reagins also made it clear that health was not the reason why the Angels didn't make a move for Kazmir earlier in the season -- back when Kazmir had a 7.11 ERA at the All-Star break.
"It had nothing to do with his health, because he's shown that he was healthy," Reagins said of Kazmir, who has a 4.11 ERA since the break. "We were involved in other discussions at that time. But at this time, it made sense to move forward."
Reagins said Kazmir will join the team "real soon," but the GM declined to say when Kazmir will make his first start with the club.
Reagins also said the Angels were interested in Kazmir because he's still young and has the potential to bounce back after struggling a bit this season to the tune of an 8-7 record with a 5.92 ERA in 20 starts.
One source of those struggles is that Kazmir has seen his average velocity on his fastball go from 92.1 mph two years ago to 90.7 mph this season. But Reagins was encouraged by Kazmir's last start, when he reached 95 mph in the sixth inning against the Blue Jays on Wednesday in a game where he struck out 10 batters.
"We had a scout in Toronto watch Scott pitch, and obviously he threw very well," Reagins said. "We've been following him for weeks, and we just felt it made sense for us to make a move right now."
Kazmir is under team control for the next two seasons and has a club option for 2012. He's set to be paid $8 million next year, $12 million in 2011 and has a $13.5 million option. No money was exchanged in the deal.
"I think it's important to have young pitchers under control," Reagins said. "Scott is still only 25 and has the prime of his career ahead of him. Obviously he's an All-Star and has All-Star stuff."
Kazmir, a two-time All-Star with a career record of 55-44 and a 3.92 ERA, is expected to help bolster an Angels pitching staff that ranks 12th in the American League in team ERA.
The Halos' starting rotation, which was in flux most of the season because of various injuries and the death of Nick Adenhart, now has five veteran starters. Kazmir joins John Lackey, Joe Saunders, Jered Weaver and Ervin Santana in the rotation.
But it could get interesting next year. Lackey is a free agent after this season, and he is expected to be the jewel of the starting pitching market. But Reagins said Kazmir's contract will have no bearing on the club's decision to retain Lackey.
"Scott's situation is exclusive of anything we're doing in the future," Reagins said. "The way the pitching market is out there now and the pitchers that are out there in the next few years, this move made a lot of sense for us to get a quality pitcher right now."
Torres, 21, split the 2009 season with Class A Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Arkansas, posting a combined 13-4 record and a 2.75 ERA. Sweeney, 21, was batting .299 with nine home runs and 44 RBIs in 58 games at Rancho Cucamonga.
"We gave up two talented players and a third to come, so this deal was not a salary dump," Reagins said. "They got players they really liked and that we really liked, too."
Rhett Bollinger is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.