Rays simply couldn't afford to keep Kazmir

Updated: August 29, 2009, 3:28 PM ET
By Buster Olney
Had Scott Kazmir remained with the Tampa Bay Rays for 2010, he likely would have been one member of an elite group of about 50 players in Major League Baseball, a group that includes Johan Santana and Alex Rodriguez and Roy Halladay and Manny Ramirez, a group that also Eric Byrnes and Jeff Suppan and Aaron Harang and Jake Westbrook.

It's a group that does not include Derek Jeter or Mark Teixeira, or any member of the Boston Red Sox. Jose Guillen and Travis Hafner are part of that club, but CC Sabathia is not.

It's the "12.5 Percent Club": The players in Major League Baseball whose salaries account for at least one-eighth of their teams' payrolls. Kazmir is in line to make $8 million next season, under the terms of the multiyear deal that he signed just 15 months ago. Given that the Rays increased their payroll to $63 million at the outset of the 2009 season and didn't see a dramatic improvement in attendance despite their World Series appearance last year, the Tampa Bay Rays already were going to have to do some serious payroll juggling, with the rising cost of their talented core rapidly increasing.