Ian Kennedy Rumors
The Diamondbacks enjoy a night off before beginning a weekend interleague series with their rather frequent trade partners, the Athletics. Here's the latest from the desert...
- In the wake of D'Backs managing partner Ken Kendrick's critical comments on Tuesday, Stephen Drew told MLB.com's Steve Gilbert that while he "understands Ken's frustration," the shortstop was "disappointed that he questioned my integrity." Drew said he has been diligently pursuing his rehab and wants to be back on the field as soon as possible. "I want to be able to play the game that I've loved my whole life again. No one wants me to be out there more than me. I'm doing everything in my power," Drew said.
- Arizona CEO Derrick Hall addressed a number of topics in a chat with fans on MLB.com, including Kendrick's comments, a possible Trevor Bauer callup and the possibility of signing Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson to contract extensions. "We have discussions regularly about long-term deals with some of our pitchers. It is to our advantage to lock some of these guys down longer term to keep this group intact," Hall said. The club explored such deals last winter but couldn't get anything finalized before Opening Day.
- GM Kevin Towers says it's too early for the Snakes to give up and explore trading veteran players, reports MLB.com's Steve Gilbert. "I'm always looking at trades, regardless of we're winning or losing or where we're at," Towers said. "I'm looking not only in the near future, but long term as well. I've already kicked some tires on some things. I'm not saying anything is close, but you're always looking, always keeping an eye on down below where your depth is."
- MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith collected another batch of Diamondbacks notes earlier today.
Clayton Kershaw's salary jumped from $500K to $7.5MM this year, and it wasn't just because of his Cy Young performance. Kershaw qualified for arbitration for the first time in his career over the winter, so he obtained the right to establish his salary by comparing his production to that of his peers.
Though $7MM raises are reserved for elite performers like Kershaw, many first-time eligible starting pitchers will see their salaries rise from $500K or so to $2-4.5MM this coming offseason. A player’s case depends in large part on his career numbers, but his most recent season, or platform year, matters a great deal.
Advanced statistics like xFIP, wins above replacement and swinging strike rate don't generally figure in to arbitration cases. Instead, traditional stats such as innings, starts, wins and ERA determine players' salaries.
With one third of the season now complete, let’s check in on the prominent starting pitchers on track to be first-time arbitration eligible this coming offseason:
Injuries have limited Jhoulys Chacin, Doug Fister, Marco Estrada, Chris Narveson and Neftali Feliz. All of these pitchers are on the disabled list, none of them are on pace to complete 150 innings, and three of them -- Estrada, Fister and Chacin -- remain winless.
Phil Humber and Tommy Hunter have stayed healthy, but they’re off to disappointing starts that include losing records and ERAs above 5.50. The homer-prone Hunter is pitching at Triple-A, and could soon be recalled. The collective bargaining recognizes special accomplishments, and Humber's perfect game definitely qualifies, so his representatives at Moye Sports Associates could play it up should the sides go to a hearing. Yet there's no clear conversion rate in place to help value Humber's perfecto.
Brian Matusz and Ross Detwiler both spent considerable time in the minor leagues last year, but they've responded with solid seasons to date. Both will head to arbitration with losing records, however, and Matusz's career ERA sits at 5.32.
Bud Norris, Ian Kennedy, Tommy Hanson, Mat Latos and, to a lesser extent, Mike Leake all entered the season with the bulk innings totals that often lead to generous salaries in arbitration. All five pitchers continue piling up innings, though Leake, Latos and Norris have ERAs above 4.50. The pitchers in this group figure to be compared against one another over and over this coming winter.
Former top prospects Jeff Samardzija and James McDonald (pictured) are enjoying breakout seasons. Both right-handers have career-best walk rates and are averaging one strikeout per inning. If they can keep this up -- or at least come reasonably close to doing so -- their paychecks will reflect the improvements in 2013 and beyond. Unfortunately for Samardzija, starters Rick Porcello and David Price didn't seem to be able to use their generous pre-arbitration salaries to boost their arbitration earnings this past offseason, so his current $2.64MM salary probably won't help much.
It's early enough for the fortunes of these pitchers to change dramatically. Feliz could return to the bullpen, Fister could replicate last year's second half success, or Samardzija could regress. But, ten-plus starts into the season, these pitchers' platform seasons have started taking shape.
Photo courtesy of US Presswire. Stats via Baseball-Reference.com. Note that Derek Holland and Jonathon Niese signed extensions covering what would have been their first arb years. Madison Bumgarner, Stephen Strasburg and Daniel Hudson are expected to fall just shy of super two eligibility, though that's not official.
The Diamondbacks have an eviable amount of young pitching both at the Major League and minor league level, but don't expect two those young arms to sign long-term contract extensions anytime soon. GM Kevin Towers told reporters (including Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic) that he doesn't expect to get deals done with Ian Kennedy or Daniel Hudson (Twitter links).
"I don't anticipate anything happening with them before the start of the season," said the GM according to Jack Magruder of FOXSportsArizona.com (on Twitter).
Kennedy, 27, currently has a better case for a large payday than the 25-year-old Hudson thanks to his 21-win season and fourth place finish in the NL Cy Young voting last year. Advanced metrics see very little difference between the two, however. Kennedy had a 2.88 ERA in 2011 but a 3.22 FIP and 5.0 WAR in 222 innings. Hudson's 3.49 ERA was backed by a 3.28 FIP and 4.9 WAR in the exact same number of innings, 222.
Towers said he might look into extensions for his two young hurlers earlier this month. Kennedy is under team control through 2015, Hudson through 2016. We've looked at both players as extension candidates in the past.
Here's the latest from the NL West...
- The Padres' contract extension with Cameron Maybin is a good deal for both parties, writes Fangraphs' Mike Axisa.
- Jeff Moorad's purchase of the Padres could be finalized on March 12 when MLB's ownership committee and executive council hold meetings, reports Tim Sullivan of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Sullivan hears "the Padres have completed the process of responding to baseball’s questions" following a January owners' meeting when Moorad's latest attempt to complete his purchase wasn't addressed due to what Bud Selig referred to as "economic concerns."
- The Diamondbacks renewed the contracts of Josh Collmenter, David Hernandez, Ian Kennedy and Gerardo Parra for 2012, the team announced Saturday. Between these renewals and agreeing to terms with 15 other players, Arizona now has its entire 40-man roster under contract for the coming season.
- The Dodgers also announced the signings of all their players with less than three years of Major League experience, with Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times specifying that A.J. Ellis will earn $490K in 2012 and Javy Guerra will earn $488K.
- CBS and MSG are each considering investing in one of the groups bidding to buy the Dodgers as a path to obtaining the team's broadcast rights, reports Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. Both networks would use the Dodgers as the foundation for a regional sports network. With CBS, MSG, Time Warner and current rights-holders FOX all interested in Dodgers programming, the club looks well-positioned for a multi-billion dollar TV contract, perhaps even topping the Angels' recent 20-year, $3 billion deal with FOX.
Here's a look at some items from around the league on this Friday evening..
- Catcher Jason Varitek hopes to remain with the Red Sox in some capacity, but it may take him some time to determine an appropriate role, writes Jerry Spar of WEEI.com.
- When Kevin Towers was asked specifically about extensions for Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson, the Diamondbacks GM didn’t nix the idea, writes Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic. Towers hasn’t talked to the agents for either player yet but suggested that he might feel them out to see if there is interest in a long-term deal.
- The Angels' Mark Trumbo has been the subject of trade rumors for the bulk of the offseason, but the slugger appears to be settling in at third base nicely, writes Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. A January poll showed that MLBTR readers think that the Halos should look to deal Kendrys Morales before Trumbo.
- Jeff Suppan wants to pitch for as long as he can, but isn't yet sure if that will extend beyond 2012, writes Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune. The veteran inked a minor league deal with the Padres this winter.
- Craig Kimbrel’s salary is the highest ever for a Braves player with less than two years of service time but the pitcher is well worth it, writes David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Winning the National League Rookie of the Year and receiving votes for Cy Young and Rolaids Relief Man awards took Kimbrel’s salary from $419K in 2011 to $590K in 2012.
- The Cubs will sit down and discuss a deal with Matt Garza, GM Jed Hoyer told David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com. "We're hoping to get something worked out, but you never know and we'll keep it private when we do," Hoyer said. Garza also expressed enthusiasm about an extension, a possibility I discussed during the offseason.
- Ian Kennedy is open to a possible extension with the Diamondbacks, Steve Gilbert of MLB.comreports. The pre-arbitration eligible right-hander said agent Scott Boras hasn't discussed a deal with the team, as far as he knows.
- Asdrubal Cabrera said he doesn't want to jump from team to team and hopes to finish his career in Cleveland, Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer reports. The Indians have discussed an extension with Cabrera, who is set to earn $4.55MM in 2012.
- When the Royals announced major contractual news yesterday, many assumed Alex Gordon had signed an extension. The outfielder says there's "nothing new" on that front, according to Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star. The extension went to catcher Salvador Perez, in case you missed it.
- Texas assistant GM Thad Levine joined Mike Ferrin and Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio and said the Rangers and Josh Hamilton have a different idea of what a long-term deal would mean (via Bowden on Twitter).
- David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News wonders if a five-year, $65MM extension might make sense for the Phillies and Shane Victorino right now. The outfielder is scheduled to hit free agency after the 2012 season.
- Dave Cameron of FanGraphs examines the Molina deal and decides that the Cardinals' decision looks better upon close examination. Cameron explains that Molina is a premium player, even though he's not signing at a bargain rate by any stretch.
It's not often that we see a trade where both sides end up happy, so a three-team trade where all parties end up pleased with their end are rare. A year and a half later, I think it's safe to the say the Diamondbacks, Tigers, and Yankees are all happy with their haul from last winter's Curtis Granderson-Max Scherzer-Ian Kennedy-Edwin Jackson (plus others) swap. Many questioned Arizona's motives behind the trade, but as Joe Pawlikowski of FanGraphs recently explained, it's the deal that keeps on giving for them.
Kennedy was everything the Diamondbacks could have hoped for in the first year after the trade, giving them 32 starts and 194 innings with a 3.80 ERA last season. His peripheral stats were strong as well: 7.79 K/9, 3.25 BB/9, 4.33 FIP, and 2.4 wins above replacement. Kennedy's second year in Arizona has gone even better; his 3.38 ERA is supported by a 3.50 FIP, and he's maintained a similar strikeout rate (7.58 K/9) while lowering his walk rate (2.35 BB/9) and increasing his ground ball rate (40.5%). After just 112 1/3 innings, he's already provided his team 2.3 wins above replacement.
Let's compare Kennedy to one of his peers at a similar point of their career...
Romero signed a five-year contract worth $30.1MM last August, a deal that also includes an option for a sixth year. It bought out his last remaining pre-arbitration year, all three arbitration-eligible seasons, and at least one free agent season. The Diamondbacks have Kennedy under team control through 2015, and he won't be eligible for arbitration until the 2013 season. A five-year deal would buy out the same years of his career as Romero's deal, and it would still allow Kennedy to hit the free agent market at age 31, young enough to land one more big contract.
It's worth mentioning that both Yovani Gallardo and Jon Lester received similar five-year contracts worth $30MM or so, the kind of deal Kennedy has set himself up for when you adjust for inflation. There's no pressure on the D'Backs to sign their young right-hander to a long-term deal now, but doing so could save the team some major bucks down the line.
Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.
With the Cactus League in full swing, let's check out some news about the team that plays in Arizona year-round...
- The Diamondbacks renewed the contracts of Ian Kennedy and Juan Miranda for the 2011 season, according to a team press release. This means the club couldn't agree to terms on a one-year contract with either pre-arbitration player. Madison Bumgarner, Tommy Hanson and Jason Berken are a few of the notable pre-arb players who have settled for renewals this spring.
- The Snakes were pretty roundly criticized for not getting enough in return for Dan Haren last summer, but Tyler Skaggs (one of the prospects Arizona acquired in the deal with the Angels) tells Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic that he wants to "prove people wrong, to show people that I'm worth the trade." Skaggs, 19, was the 40th overall pick in the 2009 amateur draft, and he has a 3.16 ERA, a 4.26 K/BB ratio and a 9.3 K/9 rate in two minor league seasons.
- Piecoro also comments on the recent Michael Young talks between the D'Backs and Rangers, saying he is "being told not to expect it to happen." Piecoro thinks even if the Rangers agree to pay most of Young's $48MM salary over the next three years, the D'Backs will still have to pay some of it, and "wouldn’t that money be better spent on the draft or on international signings?" Piecoro also doesn't think the Diamondbacks should deal away young players for Young, except for possibly Brandon Allen, "whom they don’t seem to value anyway."
One GM tells Jon Heyman of SI.com that there are plenty of complementary pieces available on the trade market, but few impact players. That echoes what Theo Epstein said earlier in the week: there’s not a ton of All-Star caliber talent available at the moment. Here's what Heyman is reporting on the market for starting pitchers:
- One general manager hears that interim GM Jerry DiPoto is asking for two starters plus bullpen help in exchange for Dan Haren. Wow.
- Another GM says every member of the D’Backs is available “except Justin Upton and maybe Ian Kennedy.”
- No team appears willing to commit to the $25MM or so remaining on Roy Oswalt’s contract. Some GMs believe Oswalt wants his 2012 option picked up at $16MM if he is traded.
- A few GMs believe the Mets make sense as a destination for Ted Lilly.
- One GM doesn’t get the impression that the Blue Jays would move young starters like Shaun Marcum.
- People connected to the Cubs expect manager Lou Piniella to retire after the season when his contract expires. Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg could replace Piniella as Cubs skipper.
The D’Backs will consider trading anyone but Justin Upton and Ian Kennedy, as they evaluate the best way to turn the team around, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com. Heyman hears that owner Ken Kendrick, president Derrick Hall and GM Josh Byrnes are in the midst of meetings to determine the best course of action for the 24-37 team. Last week, Hall told the Arizona Republic that he was open to changes given the club’s disappointing start.
Upton and Kennedy will not be dealt, and Mark Reynolds is likely to stay, but the D’Backs would consider moving others. They would listen on Dan Haren, though the club might prefer to keep him if they believe they can contend in the near future. Adam LaRoche and Kelly Johnson are possible trade candidates for GM Josh Byrnes, who admits he has to consider trades.
Byrnes has been fighting hard to keep manager A.J. Hinch around, according to Heyman. Hinch, who had never managed before taking over the club last year, does not make a seven-figure salary, so the D’Backs could fire him without having to absorb too much money. And the man who hired Hinch? Heyman reports that no one realistically expects Byrnes to be in the line of fire.