Hey, that’s one down. The Dodgers filled an opening in their rotation by signing left-handed pitcher – because that’s apparently the only kind they know – Scott Kazmir.
That’s a lot different from saying they signed him to replace Zack Greinke, because clearly that caliber free agent was no longer available. But Kazmir is healthy and solid, and was about as good as anyone left still standing.
He is not a true No. 2 starter, so that hole remains, but the rotation certainly looks better today with him than it did without. That in no way means the Dodgers should call it a finished product and move on to other challenges.
Either by trade or signing, they still need to add one reliable starter, and just for a change of pace, make him right-handed.
A team can receive only so many left-handed compliments. If you’re willing to assume Hyun-Jin Ryu’s healthy, the Dodgers could start an all-left-handed rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Brett Anderson, Alex Wood, Kazmir and Ryu. And we thought it was a big deal three years ago when they started three (Ted Lilly, Chris Capuano, Kershaw).
But the Dodgers cannot enter the season counting on Ryu and his shoulder surgery returning in perfect form, and even if it does, there’s a better chance Adrian Gonzalez wins the heavyweight crown than they go the entire season needing just five. The Dodgers used 10 different starters in their first 32 games last season, and 16 on the year.
So they need to add at least one more proven starter, something they appear well aware of.
“There are some guys coming back from injury, and so to the extent of adding more certainty to the rotation is an option for us over the next couple of months,” said Dodgers General Manager Farhan Zaidi. “We’ll definitely continue to look at those.”
Kazmir’s career splits are actually pretty even between left-handed (.241/.299/.357) and right-handed (.250/.332/.412) hitters. Yet unless the Dodgers are planning an equally unbalanced bullpen, the occasional right-handed starter would be preferable.
“When you have a left-handed starter on the mound, I don’t really feel like that game is affected by the four starting pitchers sitting in the dugout being all one-handed or the other,” Zaidi said. “From our standpoint the notion is to just find the five guys who give us the best chance to win on any given day and go from there.”
Farhan would not say Wednesday whether the Dodgers had made an offer to Japanese right-handed starter Kenta Maeda, but you should probably assume – and hope – they have. Like Kazmir, he would not cost a draft pick to sign. Maeda has to sign by Jan. 8 or return to Japan.
But whether it’s a free agent or a trade, the Dodgers need to keep adding to their rotation arsenal. Adding Kazmir is nice, but won’t get the faithful’s hearts all aflutter. That first belated move of the off-season needs to be a start.