How can the Kansas City Royals get the most value from the last two years of Ian Kennedy’s contract?
Ian Kennedy has had a rough two years. Even when healthy, he really hasn’t been all that effective, and his contract is one the Kansas City Royals really can’t move at this time. His starting value, compared to others on the 40 man roster, is marginal.
The Royals need to find a way to create value in him and that only comes with some kind of on field success. He needs to either get his mojo back as a starter or find a role in the bullpen. With health issues the last two years, the latter maybe the ultimate destination for him.
When the chatter for the move began after the season ended, Kennedy said he was OK with the idea of working in the bullpen and it seems like a logical fit. However, it is not the best way to get maximum value for or from him.
With so much invested in Kennedy, to get any return, the Kansas City Royals need him to begin the season as a starter. More than that, they need him to show some success at starting. The odds of him finding success are not good, but the team needs to try and get production from him anyway.
The greatest value the Royals can get from trading Kennedy is if he is a starter. If he shows any success at the beginning of the year, his contract becomes a little easier to move. By eating the majority of the money left on his contract, the Royals might even get a nice prospect or player in return. In other words, they would buy someone who could be useful for years to come.
The Kansas City Royals should give Kennedy at least a half a dozen starts to begin the season before deciding what to do next. On a positive note, he had three quality starts out of four to close out 2018.
By then Brad Keller, Heath Fillmyer and Jorge Lopez were all making good starts. Perhaps a fire was lit under Kennedy after watching the young arms have some success. Competition has a way of motivating people. Even though Kennedy said he was OK with the bullpen, you know, deep inside it has to have chipped his ego a bit.
If Kennedy continues to struggle as a starter, or gets hurt, then the Royals will need to begin his conversion into the bullpen. He has generally run into trouble on his third time through lineups. That bodes well for bullpen work, where he will only be seen once a game by the opposing lineup he is facing. Unless he takes over the closer role, he will not have much trade value though.
Even if Kennedy does well in relief, the Royals would probably have to eat most of the money on his contract to trade him. Although they probably won’t get much in return talent trading him as a reliever. The most to expect is just some salary relief. At that point it maybe better just to keep him. If he is succeeding in relief and the Royals are winning, why break up a good thing.
Though I expect Kennedy to begin the season as a starter, I believe he will lose that position to one of the younger arms eventually. I hope I’m wrong. The Kansas City Royals need Kennedy to do well if we want to salvage any value for, what has been so far, a bad contract.