You should know up front that teams scout other teams all the time for all kinds of reasons, and that can make rumors a little too easy this time of year. That said, it is often the case when a report comes out about teams scouting a particular player, those reports are based on more than the mere fact that the team had a presence at a game in which that particular player happened to be appearing. Usually there’s a little more to it, even if it goes unsaid.
Against that backdrop, there’s a report from the San Francisco Chronicle indicating that the Chicago Cubs had a scouting presence at Scott Kazmir’s start last night in Oakland, together with scouts from the Royals, Twins, and Nationals. Had the Cubs not already been connected to Kazmir by very specific rumors, and were the Cubs not openly in the market for a starting pitcher, I might not make much of the Chronicle report. As it stands, it’s probably just a little more support for the idea that Kazmir, who is a free agent after the season, is a possible Cubs trade target.
Kazmir, 31, seems an obvious trade piece for the A’s (37-45), presuming they sell. Not only is Kazmir a free agent after this season, and not only is Kazmir pitching very well this year (2.56 ERA, 3.24 FIP, 3.55 xFIP), but he’s also making a lofty (for the A’s) $13 million this year. Trading him at mid-season for a prospect infusion while also saving $6 million or so in salary has to be an awfully attractive proposition.
Presumably, many teams will be interested in Kazmir, not just the four teams mentioned in the Chronicle report. Until the market of sellers clarifies a little more, though, buyers may be reluctant to pay a steep price for Kazmir just yet. Of course, the flip-side of that is that a team like the Cubs could use a starting pitcher as quickly as possible.