Kazmir a shrewd investment for A's

Scott Kazmir didn't pitch in 2012, but struck out a man per inning in 2013. Jason Miller/Getty Images

The Oakland Athletics probably have outgrown their reputation as a team operating on a shoestring that forces them to shop in the bargain bin during free agency and in the trade market, as they've handed out a few larger deals -- such as the four-year, $36 million contract they gave to Yoenis Cespedes -- in the past couple of seasons.

That said, they do still look for hidden value or potential upside plays, now a little less out of necessity and more because it's just smart business for any team that doesn't have an infinite payroll. Giving two years and $22 million to Scott Kazmir entails significant risk -- the guy was out of baseball a year ago -- but has the potential upside to make this the kind of high-ROI deal Oakland needs.

Kazmir replaces Bartolo Colon, who was in similar straits when Oakland first signed him after a shocking return to the majors with the Yankees in 2011.