Zaidi thrilled to add Kazmir to Dodgers' clubhouse

Ed Zurga / Getty Images Sport / Getty

A couple of years ago, when Farhan Zaidi was assistant general manager in Oakland, he couldn't help but notice the positive influence that Scott Kazmir - the resilient left-hander who spent the 2012 season with the Sugar Land Skeeters - was having in the clubhouse.

"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 told USA Today. "I really felt like based on my interaction with him in Oakland, he would really be an additive guy to our clubhouse."

Kazmir's career was almost completely derailed by injuries and inconsistency - hence the excursion to an obscure independent league - but he has since re-established himself as one of the game's most reliable left-handers, navigating a professional renaissance that compelled Zaidi, now GM of the Los Angeles Dodgers, to hand him a three-year, $48-million deal on Wednesday.

"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."

In 2011, after enduring the worst season of his MLB career with the Angels, Kazmir made just one start for Los Angeles before being relegated to the minor leagues amid a "baffling" loss of velocity and command, as manager Mike Scioscia put it. He was released in June with $14.5 million left on his contract.

The following spring, despite holding bullpen sessions for MLB scouts, Kazmir was unable to inspire even a single contract offer and spent the summer pitching in virtual anonymity in the Atlantic League, where he posted an ugly 5.34 ERA in 14 starts for the Skeeters.

After his velocity unexpectedly returned in November of 2012 during a brief stint with a professional team in Puerto Rico, though, Kazmir managed to a finagle a minor-league deal from the Cleveland Indians that included an invitation to spring training. He ended up making 29 starts for the Indians that summer - his most since his All-Star season with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2009 - and parlayed his strong peripheral statistics (3.51 FIP, 24.1 percent strikeout rate) into a two-year deal with the Athletics.

Now, two years later, Kazmir is set to become an integral part of Los Angeles' lefty-heavy rotation - he owns a 3.33 ERA with a 1.18 WHIP since 2014 - after agreeing to a deal (with an opt-out clause after 2016) that, as Zaidi said, "makes sense on both sides."

Zaidi thrilled to add Kazmir to Dodgers' clubhouse
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