Pitcher Scott Kazmir will not exercise a clause in his contract that would have allowed him to walk away from the final two years and $32 million in his contract with the Dodgers.
Kazmir, 32, went 10-6 with a 4.56 earned-run average in 2016. He made only one start after August 22 because of recurring inflammation in his neck but still managed to make 26 starts, second-most on the team.
The veteran left-hander struck out 8.8 batters per nine innings, his most in a season since 2013. But his ERA, walk rate and home run rates all rose closer to his career highs.
Had he opted out, Kazmir would have entered a relatively weak free agent class for left-handed starting pitchers. Rich Hill is the top name on that market, and Kazmir’s decision might influence the Dodgers’ decision to re-sign Hill.
Without tapping into the market, the Dodgers have ample in-house options to fill out their 2017 rotation: right-handers Kenta Maeda, Brandon McCarthy, Jose De Leon and Ross Stripling, and left-handers Kazmir, Clayton Kershaw, Julio Urias, Alex Wood and Hyun-Jin Ryu. Each made at least one start in 2016, though Ryu’s health was a question mark throughout the season as he recovered from shoulder surgery.
With few proven options available in free agency, one or more of the Dodgers’ veterans could be dangled as trade bait this winter. Kazmir will make $16 million in 2017, McCarthy $10 million and Ryu $7 million. All three are under contract for two more years, which could make them more attractive than a free agent looking for a contract in excess of three years.