The Kansas City Royals are in the midst of there own rebuild and currently have a starter turned closer eating 25% of their payroll. Is this a contract that the Royals would be willing to get off the books? Let’s examine the contract.
Contract: Ian Kennedy was signed to a 5 year 70 million contract by the Royals in 2016. I think we can all agree that Kennedy was signed as a starter but after a couple of down seasons in 2017 and 2018 Kennedy was moved to the bullpen. In 2019 Kennedy pitched 63.1 innings amassing 73 SO, and 30 saves to the tune of a 3.41 era.
Sportrac.com has Kennedy set to earn 16.5 million in the last year of his 5 year contract. Kennedy is set to become a free agent in 2021. Kennedy is set to earn similar salaries to some of MLB’s elite closers. Kenley Jansen 18 million, Aroldis Chapman 17.2 million, Craig Kimbrell 16 million, and Mark Melancon 19 million. NOTE some of these closers may not have produced elite results in 2019 but their contracts have paid them as elite closers.
Analysis: Kennedy had a productive year in 2019 but likely fits better as a set-up man rather than an elite closer. Most teams would consider a 16.5 million dollar set-up BP arm an extreme luxury. However, could the Jays find value having the ability to shorten games with a Kennedy and Giles pitching the 8th and 9th. Kennedy also doesn’t have a long track record as a BP arm and his 2020 results could be vastly different but is he worth a gamble?