Brewers Linked to Impending Free Agent RHP Ian Kennedy


The 2015 MLB regular season hasn’t even finished up yet, but the hot stove has already started burning. Even our own Milwaukee Brewers, mired in a 68-91 season, have been linked to a rather high-profile impending free agent. According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Brewers and new GM David Stearns could look for help to solidify their pitching staff this winter, with Heyman saying specifically Milwaukee could pursue Padres’ right handed starter Ian Kennedy.

Kennedy will be 31 when the 2016 season begins, and has enjoyed a solid, if unspectacular career since debuting with the Yankees in 2007. He’s posted a 3.98 ERA/4.31 DRA over 1234.2 innings in his career, and has made 30+ starts in each of the last six seasons. Over that time he has struck out 1140 batters (21.8%) while walking 412 (7.9%) and holding opponents to a 1.28 WHIP. He’s never been much of a ground ball pitcher, inducing them to just 38.1% of opposing hitters during his career. He throws a fastball, slider, curveball, and changeup, and his average fastball velocity has remained consistent between 89-91 MPH throughout his career.

This year, the 6’0″ 200 pound Kennedy has made 30 starts and accrued a 9-15 record, pitching to a 4.28 ERA/5.01 DRA across 168.1 innings. He’s struck out 174 hitters with a career high 9.30 K/9 rate while walking just 52, but he’s had significant problems with the home run ball this year. He’s allowed a career high 31 home runs and 1.7 HR/9, despite making his home starts at pitcher friendly Petco Park in San Diego. He’s been valued anywhere between -0.4 and 0.8 WAR this year, depending on which version one prefers. He drew a $9.85 mil salary this season before reaching the open market for the first time in his career.

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This move would make very little sense for the Brewers, in my mind. Based on his track record, Kennedy should be able to command a similar contract to the 4 year, $50 mil deal that Milwaukee gave to Matt Garza prior to the 2014 season, and we’ve seen how that deal has worked out for Milwaukee. The Brewers also have a myriad of young, cost controlled pitching prospects with similar ceilings to the value Ian Kennedy could provide; I’d rather see youngsters like Zach Davies, Jorge Lopez, Tyler Wagner, or even Ariel Pena get a shot to prove they can stick in the rotation next season rather than spending somewhere between $10-$15 mil annually on an aging Ian Kennedy. The Brewers likely won’t be competing for much more than a top draft pick next season and they continue to rebuild towards the future, lessening the need for an addition like Kennedy even further. It’s also likely that the move to a hitter’s park like Miller would exacerbate Kennedy’s home run issues even further.

David Stearns and the Brewers need to stay the course through this rebuild, rather than trying to patchwork an 80 win team together like in seasons past. Milwaukee now boasts a greatly improved farm system and several solid pitching prospects, so the addition of a middle-tier free agent like Ian Kennedy would fail to serve much purpose other than to create possible payroll issues in future seasons. The Brewers goal this season should be to shed even more major league players to add prospects to their stable, and from that standpoint I think we could see Stearns have quite an active first winter as the Brewers’ general manager.

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