Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

scott kazmir oaklandApropos of Jason Hammel’s injury last night, one of the most obviously-available rental starting pitchers on the market this year, Scott Kazmir, also left his start last night with an injury.

Kazmir, who has been connected to the Cubs by a number of rumors, departed after three innings last night with what is being termed minor left triceps tightness. The official word from all involved is that, were it a late-season game, Kazmir might have kept pitching, or if the All-Star break wasn’t coming up and he could just rest, maybe the A’s wouldn’t have been so quick to yank him. Not unlike the Cubs with Hammel, the A’s can use the break and then structure their rotation such that Kazmir can get almost two full weeks off.

Of course, if they actually do that, Kazmir will have only one or two starts to show teams he’s fully healthy before the July 31 Trade Deadline.

This close to the deadline, even a very minor arm issue – and, remember, Kazmir had to miss a start earlier this year with shoulder discomfort – will give teams pause before parting with serious prospects to pick up a rental. Kazmir is making $13 million this season, so you can figure that the small-market A’s will want to deal him one way or another before July 31. Did their leverage just take a hit? Or will there be so few sellers that demand will outstrip supply sufficiently for a triceps issue not to harm Kazmir’s value?

I tend to think there will be plenty of sellers when we actually get closer to the Trade Deadline, but I suppose we’ll see. Kazmir’s value in trade still figures to be higher than the draft pick the A’s could get by making him a qualifying offer (especially when you factor in the risk of more serious second half injury, the risk he’d accept the offer, and the salary savings the A’s get by trading him now). The acquisition cost, though, may drop slightly after this event, and should still be well within the range of what will make sense for a team like the Cubs, who are most likely shooting for a Wild Card spot.

Speaking of the upcoming Trade Deadline: if you want me to cover it like a crazy person for 38 hours straight with no breaks, you have to make it happen.

UPDATE: While we await word on Jason Hammel’s MRI, there’s a small update on Kazmir – he was able to throw all of his pitches without discomfort today. I’m guessing there’s still going to be some wariness in trade talks (even if just for attempts at leverage), even after he makes his next start, whenever that is.

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