Scott Kazmir was traded from the Tampa Bay Rays to the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night, giving the AL West leaders a major boost to their unsteady rotation.
The Angels acquired Kazmir, a two-time All-Star, for two minor leaguers and a player to be named. The left-hander was 8-7 with a 5.92 ERA this season for the defending AL champion Rays.
Tampa Bay receives left-hander Alex Torres and third baseman Matt Sweeney in the deal.
Looking to lock up their third straight division title, the Angels began the night four games ahead of second-place Texas. Tampa Bay was 3 1/2 out in the wild-card race.
Because he was dealt before Aug. 31, Kazmir is eligible for postseason play with Los Angeles. He had to clear waivers to be traded at this point in the season.
The move came as a bit of a surprise because the 25-year-old Kazmir was a key part of a talented young core that helped Tampa Bay go from perennial losers to pennant winners last year. But the trade provides salary relief for the cost-conscious Rays, who have several important budget decisions to make soon.
Kazmir is earning $6 million this season in the first year of a $28.5 million, three-year deal he agreed to in May 2008. He is owed $8 million next season and $12 million in 2010, and his contract contains a $13.5 million club option for 2012 with a $2.5 million buyout.
Kazmir led the AL with 239 strikeouts in 2007 but has been slowed by injuries during his career.
All season, Los Angeles has been piecing together a rotation beset by injuries to John Lackey, Ervin Santana, Joe Saunders and Kelvim Escobar, and the tragic death of Nick Adenhart.
Lackey can become a free agent after the season.
Kazmir was selected in the first round of the 2002 draft by the New York Mets, then traded to Tampa Bay in 2004 while he was still in the minors.
Kazmir is 4-1 with a 4.38 ERA over his last six starts. His previous outing was at Toronto on Wednesday, when he struck out 10 while allowing a run and four hits over six innings in a no-decision.