The Indians were said to be in on Edwin Jackson, and may have made serious offers to other starting pitchers as well, but they hadn't gotten anyone to "sign those papers!" Trevor Bauer is a great addition, but may not be ready to slide into the rotation in April, and even if he is, more options couldn't hurt, given the sorry state of the rotation in 2012. Signing Scott Kazmir (a lefty) to a minor league deal and inviting him to camp gives the Tribe one more live arm with some sort of prior success for the team and its fans to hope see return.
Kazmir was the Mets' 1st round pick in 2002. Before reaching the Majors he was sent to Tampa Bay for Victor Zambrano in a much maligned deal. From 2005-2008, Kazmir was a very productive pitcher for the Rays, with an ERA+ of 127 in almost 700 innings and a strikeout rate of 9.8 per 9 innings (he compiled a bWAR of 16.2 over those four seasons). Injuries and ineffectiveness slowed him down in 2009, his ERA+ has been just 75 over the last four years, in which times he's pitched 299 innings. He hasn't pitched at all in the Majors since April 3, 2011, with the Angles.
He played in the Sugar Land Skeeters, an independent ball club in 2012, putting up an ERA of 5.34 over three months worth of starts. He also pitched down in Puerto Rico for the last month, with an ERA of 4.37 in 22.2 innings. He doesn't have the same velocity he used to, but it's been reported as better in the last few months than it was in 2010 or 2011.
Here are his career numbers:
Obviously there isn't a great deal of optimism surrounding Kazmir, or he wouldn't have had to settle for a minor league deal, but there's no risk involved here for the Indians, Kazmir is still just 28 years old, and maybe they catch lightning in a bottle and Kazmir returns to being a capable starter, or a solid thrower out of the bullpen.