May 30, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; San Diego Padres starting pitcher Ian Kennedy (22) throws a pitch against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning at U.S Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

MLB Trade Deadline 2014: Could Ian Kennedy be a good candidate for Blue Jays?

The Toronto Blue Jays have made a surprising surge to the top of the American League East, and a lot of that has come on the backs of a pitching staff that has been at the very least effective. Mark Buehrle has stepped up as the staff ace, Drew Hutchison has been surprisingly good, and even J.A. Happ has contributed a few solid starts.

However, pundits and fans alike have made no bones about the fact that the teamis living on borrowed time with their pitchers. R.A. Dickey has been bailed out by the bullpen on a number of occasions, Buehrle is showing signs that regression may be in his future, and Hutchison sports some pretty ugly road/home splits. The other half of the rotation is made up of Happ, who is about as Jekyll and Hyde as they come, and Marcus Stroman, a rookie who could be a difference maker but with no clear direction of to what degree in 2014.

All of those signs point toward the Blue Jays likely needing to make a move at the trade deadline if they have any real designs on the postseason in 2014. The opinions vary of course, with some like Fox’s Ken Rosenthal stating that the Blue Jays “need a home run hitter in the rotation” and others like CBS’s Jon Heyman noting that the Jays will only pursue a rental player.

But what if the solution is somewhat in the middle. Perhaps the team only needs to find a middle of the rotation pitcher, but someone the team can get some control of over the next few seasons?

What about a guy like Ian Kennedy of the San Diego Padres?

I know, I know, Kennedy doesn’t pack the power that Rosenthal was looking for, but he’s been secretly better than you probably know about. Remember, we’re talking about a guy that finished 4th in the Cy Young voting in 2011, a year in which if you compared his statistics from this year to that season, you’d be pleasantly surprised.

Ian Kennedy 2011 vs 2014


As you can see, Kennedy’s 3.72 ERA in 2014 is a bit deceptive, as he’s actually been more than half a run better according to both FIP and SIERA. He’s also been throwing to a career-best 42% ground-ball rate as well as recording a career-high 9.6 strike-outs per nine innings pitched.

Now, I know what a lot of you naysayers are going to spout off; Kennedy has Petco Park as his home stadium, the field where baseballs go to die. However, when you look at his home and road splits, you’re in for another surprise. Yes, there is one less start on the road, but his numbers are actually consistent no matter where he’s thrown.

Ian Kennedy - Home Vs Away 2014


Now, he obviously still pitches in the National League, as does the big name the Jays are consistently attached to in Jeff Samardzija. However, the park factor may not totally crush him either.

Ian Kennedy also comes with one distinct advantage to Samardzija; cost.

Both pitchers are arbitration-eligible for the final time at the end of the 2014 season. While Kennedy may have a higher rate of pay right now ($6.1 million vs $5.3 million), Samardzija is likely to see the higher increase through the arbitration process at the end of the season. Additionally, the asking price for Kennedy is also likely to be significantly lower than it would be for the Shark.

We know that Theo Epstein has previously asked for Drew Hutchison and one of either Marcus Stroman or Aaron Sanchez. That’s a steep price to pay for a guy you know won’t re-sign with you once his contract expires following the 2015 season.

Kennedy on the other hand couldn’t possibly carry that much weight in a return package. The Padres acquired him for a pair of relievers at last year’s trade deadline. They do lack pitching depth in their upper minors, but wouldn’t be looking to get anything close to a Hutchison, Stroman, or Sanchez back, something the Blue Jays are much more amenable to perhaps.

Perhaps an arm like a Sean Nolin or a Deck McGuire might intrigue them, and the stock on Liam Hendriks has likely never been higher. Coupling one of those arms with a supporting piece might be enough to get the job done and not hurt the Blue Jays long-term in the way that a Shark deal would.

Ian Kennedy doesn’t carry the sex-appeal that an acquisition of Jeff Samardzija, James Shields, Cliff Lee, or David Price would. However, he is exactly the smart, out-of-the-box type of pick-up that Alex Anthopoulos is looking for while trying to win now and also prepare for the future.

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Tags: Ian Kennedy MLB Trade Deadline Toronto Blue Jays

  • RyanMueller

    I like this deal because it helps add rotation stability and we are able to hold on to our top prospects. I think offering Nolin would be a solid prospect to build off of. Good one.

  • Shaun Doyle

    Franzoni for GM.

  • BlueJayMatt

    I’d prefer to go for Brandon McCarthy and Didi Gregorius from Arizona. Rental upgrade in the rotation plus a long term solution at 2B. Would cost Sanchez plus but would be well worth it

    • Kyle Franzoni

      Gregorius may be a decent add, but I’m not convinced you can keep McCarthy healthy, and would you really want to give up Sanchez for just Gregorius?

      • BlueJayMatt

        I might actually. Sanchez could be great or he could never figure out his control. Gregorius is a solid big leaguer that is under control for years and fills 2B nicely and gives a back-up SS, both are big holes this year and the foreseeable future.

  • japester

    Given the organizational chaos with the Dbacks its unlikele they have a clue what they’re doing. When Owings won the job at SS out of spring training, Didi went to AAA. Reports suggested that AZ was looking for a pair of MLB ready prospects just for Gregorious. As much as I would to see Didi at second for a number of years, eventually moving to SS, I just can’t see a deal for him. More likely is they dump Hill and his contract at the NWTD and keep Gregorious for themselves.

  • Wayne Cooper

    How about a deal with Milwaukee, its no secret that Gallardo has been in trade rumors for the past couple seasons, and isn’t exactly having the best season right now. But before the trade rumors, he was as good as they come. 200+ k’s in 4 straight years with double digit wins and an ERA under 4, couple that with Rickie Weeks being on the bench all year in favor of Scooter Gennett, and a deal for these 2 makes a lot of sense for me. Gallardo is currently Milwaukee 4th best starter, but I think a change of scenery could make a difference with him, and could be an ace again at only age 28. Might have to give up Stroman or Sanchez, and possibly another prospect, and maybe Tolleson to be their utility infielder at a fraction of the cost than that of Weeks (you don’t want a bench player making his salary) please comment i’d like to know what you think.