In his first MLB start since 2016, the Los Angeles Dodgers were both Scott Kazmir's opponents and his benefactors.
Kazmir made his debut for the San Francisco Giants on Saturday after five years out of the majors due to struggles with injuries. In four innings, Kazmir allowed only two hits and one run while striking out two.
The last time Kazmir had been on a big league mound was Sept. 23, 2016 for the Dodgers, with whom he signed a three-year, $48 million contract the prior offseason.
Despite his solid start, the Giants eventually lost 6-3.
Scott Kazmir's long comeback to MLB
For a while, it looked like Kazmir's contract would outlast his MLB career. He didn't appear at all in 2017 due to diminished velocity and more injuries, leading to a trade to the Atlanta Braves, who released him in March 2018. At that point, he basically retired.
Kazmir didn't sign with a team at all in 2018 or 2019, but continued to be paid by the Dodgers through the magic of deferred money. Between 2019 and 2021, the Dodgers owed him $8 million per year, and that continued even though Kazmir decided to start pitching again in 2020.
After a stop in the Constellation Energy League, an independent league that ran for one season during the COVID-19 pandemic, Kazmir signed a minor-league deal with the Giants and officially returned to the majors on Saturday.
It wasn't the first time he had to make it back to the big leagues through an independent team, as he played for the Sugar Land Skeeters and Puerto Rico's Gigantes de Carolina in 2012 before getting a deal with the Cleveland Indians.
It's not quite accurate to say the Dodgers were paying Kazmir to play against them on Saturday, however. It's deferred money, so they were still paying him to play for them between 2016 and 2018 — they'd be paying him even if he were sitting on the couch all year.
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