LOS ANGELES — Left-hander Scott Kazmir agreed to a three-year, $48 million contract on Wednesday with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The three-time All-Star was among the top names left on the free-agent market after revitalizing his career over the past three seasons with Cleveland, Oakland and Houston. He ranked fourth in the AL with a 3.10 ERA last year while going 7-11 for the Athletics and the Astros.
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Kazmir hailed the deal in a post on his Twitter account: “What a great day to officially be a Dodger!”
He also wished a happy 80th birthday to Dodgers Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax, whom he called “my lefty idol.”
Kazmir’s deal includes an opt-out clause after the first year, but his arrival is a highlight in an unusual offseason for the Dodgers, whose fans are still sore about losing superstar right-hander Zack Greinke in free agency to Arizona.
Los Angeles also declined to close a deal with right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, who re-signed with Seattle, and backed out of a trade for Cincinnati closer Aroldis Chapman after learning the Cuban had been investigated over an accusation of domestic violence.
Kazmir is headed to the NL for the first time in his six-team, 11-year major league career, but the Dodgers’ front office is quite familiar with the resilient 31-year-old starter.
He began his career in Tampa Bay shortly before Andrew Friedman, now the Dodgers’ president of baseball operations, became the Rays’ general manager. Kazmir then revived his career in Oakland in 2014 while Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi was the A’s assistant GM.
Zaidi has watched Kazmir’s evolution from a young pitcher relying heavily on his fastball and breaking ball into a veteran with one of the majors’ best change-ups. The Dodgers GM credits Kazmir’s athleticism for his return to prominence.
“The guy I saw in Oakland was a great teammate, a guy who I think really appreciated the chance to put the big-league uniform on every day,” Zaidi said Wednesday. “I really felt like based on my interaction with him in Oakland, he would really be an additive guy to our clubhouse.”
Acquired by his hometown Astros for the playoff stretch last July, Kazmir went 0-3 in his final seven starts before getting no decision in his only postseason appearance.
Kazmir is back in Southern California after crashing out of the majors in 2011 following three mostly awful years with the Los Angeles Angels. After recovering from injuries and playing independent ball, he returned to the Indians in 2013 and took off with Oakland in 2014, going 15-9.
“I think that’s a testament to his will and resolve to get back to performing at a high level,” Zaidi said. “I go back to when we signed him to that two-year deal in Oakland. He was coming off that season in Cleveland, and people viewed it as a risk ... and he made us look very smart for making that deal in retrospect. I actually view it as a positive when a guy has been through those down times and comes out on the other side. I think it just adds to guys’ character and resolve.”
After deciding not to make a major offseason splash with their ample cash, the three-time defending NL West champions have assembled a potential opening day rotation featuring five left-handers: Clayton Kershaw, Kazmir, Brett Anderson, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Alex Wood.
That might sound tantalizing to the NL West’s top sluggers, most of whom are right-handed hitters, including Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock, Matt Kemp, Buster Posey and Hunter Pence.
Dodgers right-hander Brandon McCarthy also is expected to return during the 2016 season after elbow ligament replacement surgery. He greeted yet another lefty’s arrival on Twitter with his typical dry wit: “This is blatant handism and I’m filing a hostile workplace grievance.”
Zaidi confirmed the Dodgers backed out of a deal for the hard-throwing Chapman after learning about his apparent scuffle with a girlfriend. The Yankees subsequently acquired Chapman for four minor-leaguers, but have received heavy criticism for the move.
“We did come to an agreement in principle on a deal, and as the details that emerged came to light, we just weren’t comfortable making the move,” Zaidi said. “Every situation like this is different. Every organization has to make their own decision on it. We made a decision based on the information that was at hand, and we stand by it and we move on.”
The Dodgers designated outfielder Daniel Fields for assignment to make room for Kazmir on their 40-man roster.