Let the selling season begin.
The Oakland A's traded LHP Scott Kazmir to the Houston Astros in exchange for minor-league prospects Jacob Nottingham and Daniel Mengden. Kazmir is one of several veteran players the A's likely to deal before the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline.
Kazmir heads home to Houston with a sparkling 2.38 ERA and a 101:35 K:BB in 109.2 innings this season. The left-hander joined the A's before the 2014 season as a free agent and he had a 3.12 ERA in 50 starts for Oakland. He was an All-Star in 2014 and could have easily made the team in 2015 had the A's not struggled so much during the first half of the year. Kazmir is set to be a free agent in the off-season and figures to command a significant contract as long as he stays healthy through the remainder of the year. Kazmir battled a few minor injuries during this season and has a history of arm trouble from earlier in his career.
The A's recalled RHP Arnold Leon from Triple-A Nashville to take Kazmir's spot on the roster for now. LHP Drew Pomeranz will make the start in Kazmir's place on Thursday for Oakland. Pomeranz had been working out of the A's bullpen for the past two months and he may not be a permanent solution for Kazmir's rotation spot. Earlier this month, I made a case for LHP Barry Zito to earn a call-up to Oakland. Zito pitched for Nashville last night, so he would be in a good position to take Kazmir's next turn. The A's now have an open 40-man roster spot that they could use for Zito. Update: A's manager Bob Melvin told A's beat reporters before Oakland's game on Thursday that Pomeranz would remain in the rotation for the foreseeable future.
In return for Kazmir, the A's receive two prospects who should help address areas of need within their system (for more on the A's strengths and weaknesses, click here). Catcher Jacob Nottingham is a 20-year-old backstop who has split his season between Low-A Quad Cities in the Midwest League and High-A Lancaster in the California League. Twenty-two year old Daniel Mengden has also split his season between those two A-ball clubs. The A's got plenty of looks at both this season as he played against their Midwest League and Cal League affiliates. Ironically, the A's Cal League affiliate -- the Stockton Ports -- are currently in Lancaster, so Nottingham and Mengden won't have far to travel to join their new club.
Nottingham was a sixth-round pick of the Astros in 2013 out of Redlands HS. He has emerged as an offensive force this season, first posting a 931 OPS in 59 games in the pitcher-friendly Midwest League and then carrying that over into the Cal League with a 974 OPS in 17 games. He already has 14 homeruns this season and a .326/.383/.558 overall line. Defensively, Nottingham has gunned down 40% of would-be base-stealers this season.
Mengden is a Texas A&M alum and a fourth-round pick in 2014. The right-hander had a 1.16 ERA and a 36:8 K:BB in 38.2 Midwest League innings. His ERA in 49.2 Cal League innings is 5.26, but he has a solid 48:18 K:BB. His fastball sits in the low-90s and he has a funky delivery that creates some deception. He is a good athlete, a former position player in college.
We will have plenty more on this trade and the A's newest two prospects later today.