Scott Kazmir is on his way to Houston via a trade with the Oakland A’s.
Since Kazmir is essentially a rental, the Astros were not forced to dig deeply in the prize closet to acquire the Houston native.
There are several questions, so let’s start there:
Who moves out of the rotation.
- You could argue that Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh, Lance McCullers and even Scott Feldman will continue to be essentials in the rotation. Vincent Velasquez will also remain a viable option, but could be moved either back to Corpus Christi or Fresno or possibly to the bullpen to keep his innings down.
- Likely scenario: For now, Kazmir will slot in somewhere between two of the righties and provide a nice 1-2-3 punch with Keuchel and McHugh. It’s possible, if not likely, that Velasquez and McCullers could end up in a tandem situation or the Astros could exhaust most of the innings remaining for McCullers while Velasquez stays fresh in the bullpen. At the appropriate time, McCullers and Velasquez might flip roles.
Can or should the Astros try to keep Kazmir as part of the 2016-17 mix?
- Since Jeff Luhnow pursued Kazmir two years ago before he signed with the A’s, it shouldn’t be surprising to hear soon that Houston is pursuing a deal. Luhnow has said the Kazmir acquisition gives the Astros’ the strongest rotation depth in the American League.
- Likely scenario: Astros sign Kazmir to two-year deal with an option for 2018.
Can the Astros win the divsion and go deep into the playoffs without adding other players?
- So many variables, but it seems obvious that Luhnow will need to add another bat or two for the stretch run. The return of Jed Lowrie and George Springer will help, but it may be a gamble to depend on them to bounce back quickly. Depending on where Lowrie plays, first base and designated hitter may still be a black hole.
- Likely scenario: Lowrie plugs in at third and Preston Tucker moves to DH once Springer returns. Still, with a stable of players still in the system, Luhnow may well pick up another bat for the middle of the order.