Watching Ian Kennedy create history last season for the KC Royals was exciting but the team needs to trade him to a contender in 2020.
When you are only the fourth player since 1969 to accomplish a feat, you are in pretty select company. Such was the case when Ian Kennedy nailed down is 30th save for the KC Royals on September 16th, 2019 against the Oakland A’s. He joined a club only Dennis Eckersley, John Smoltz and Derek Lowe have been to before. The 20-win, 30-save club.
It was not what the team had in mind when they inked Kennedy to a large contract in January of 2016 but after two years of struggling as a starter, it was a nice rebound. Fresh from a stint with the San Diego Padres, Kennedy went 11-11 but pitched better than that with a 1.221 WHIP and ERA+ of 117 in his first season with the KC Royals.
What followed the next two years was a combined record of 8-22, his highest WHIP since 2013 and WAR’s of 0.5 each season. After a hot start in April in his first season as a reliever, Kennedy saw his ERA creep from 1.15 on May 1st to 4.37 on May 29th following back-to-back outings that resulted in one blown save and one loss.
A light seemingly flicked on in June and he recorded eight saves in his ten appearances striking out multiple batters in just one inning of work six of those occasions. Nine saves followed in July and although August only yielded four saves, Kennedy nailed down six more in his first seven September games that catapulted him to 30 for the year.
Admittedly, it will be most likely not be a blockbuster trade for Kennedy as he will be a free agent following this season and heading into his age-36 season. There are a handful of teams who could easily be playoff contenders and going into this year they may need a veteran with success coming out of bullpen to make the final push. We will look at three potential partners.