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Tampa Bay Rays free agent target: LHP Scott Kazmir

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A reunion might be in order.

World Series: Tampa Bay Rays v Philadelphia Phillies, Game 5 Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Rays are in dire need of a starting pitcher.

Nathan Eovaldi has been placed on the disabled list with an injury that will keep him out for a significant part of the 2018 season, and the Rays options in the minor leagues may not be ready to jump the majors, especially with the loss of both Brent Honeywell and Jose De Leon earlier this spring.

Eovaldi was supposed to be a key member of the Rays experimental four-man rotation, but with him out, there is a huge void in the Rays pitching staff. The Rays will likely look internally to plug the gap, with plenty of options to choose from, however, those options are untested in the major leagues.

There is a familiar name available for the league minimum on the open market that the Rays could turn to.

Scott Kazmir.

Kazmir was recently released by the Atlanta Braves after being told he would not be a part of their starting rotation. Traded to Atlanta in salary dump of a deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Kazmir missed all of the 2017 season with a hip injury, and has dealt with his fair share of injuries throughout his career.

When healthy, Kazmir has been a mix dominance and ineffectiveness as his control has abandoned him at times, leading to a high walk numbers and poor performance overall.

The former ace of the Rays staff, made a triumphant return to baseball in 2013 following a hiatus from the majors that took him through the Independent Leagues. He was an All-Star during his 2014 campaign, and during the 2015-2016 offseason he signed a lucrative three-year deal with the Dodgers.

During his most recent major league action during the 2016 season, Kazmir made 26 starts and accumulated a 4.56 ERA / 4.48 FIP, while opponents hit .298 off him over 136.1 innings pitched.

He appeared in five games this spring with Atlanta, allowing six runs — five earned — on 11 hits, 1 HR, while he walked seven and struck out four over 11 innings pitched.

Baltimore Orioles vs Tampa Bay Devil Rays - July 23, 2006 Photo by A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Prior to all of that though, the Rays acquired Kazmir as a 20-year-old pitching prospect and thrust him into the majors almost immediately. He would quickly become the best pitcher in the franchise’s brief history, leading the AL with 239 strikeouts during the 2007 season. During the 2008 season, Kazmir would lead the team on their first ever playoff run and started Game 1 of the World Series.

He was traded towards the end of the 2009 season to the Los Angeles Angels. While with the Angles, Kazmir’s career suffered a meltdown, which ultimately led to his time in the Independent Leagues.

The Rays have a hole in their starting rotation, and Scott Kazmir, now 34, may just be the perfect arm to take a chance on.