The Padres traded Will Venable to the Rangers tonight, but they almost certainly won’t be dealing another pair of potential free agents; Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that right-handers Ian Kennedy and Joaquin Benoit were both claimed on revocable waivers, but trades couldn’t be reached, so the Padres pulled the pair back.
Kennedy, 30, is a free agent at the end of the season and is owed about $2.58MM of his $9.85MM salary through season’s end. The former Yankees/D-Backs hurler has struggled for much of the season, but he’s been a more appealing trade target of late, working to a 2.82 ERA with a 76-to-23 K/BB ratio in 83 innings dating back to June 1. Kennedy’s been very homer-prone this season (1.9 HR/9), but much of that can be attributed to an abnormally high 18.7 percent homer-to-flyball ratio that is well above his career mark of 10.6 percent.
The 38-year-old Benoit has been one of the better late-inning relief arms in the game over the past few seasons, though there are some possible red flags in his game this year. Though Benoit’s pitched to a stellar 2.13 ERA, his strikeout rate (8.2 K/9) and walk rate (3.0 BB/9) have both gone the wrong direction in 2015, and he’s benefited from a likely unsustainable .163 average on balls in play. Nevertheless, his track record and strong bottom-line results led to a claim despite a relatively substantial salary; Benoit is owed $2.1MM of his $8MM salary through season’s end, to say nothing of a $1MM buyout on an $8MM option for the 2016 season (though some teams were probably interested in exercising that option).
While the waiver claims and retractions technically don’t prevent the pair from being traded, it becomes extremely unlikely that either will be moved now. The Padres can put both players on trade waivers for a second time, but the waivers would no longer be revocable at that point. More likely is the possibility that the Padres are impressed enough with Kennedy’s resurgence that they’re eyeing a draft pick as compensation in the event that he signs elsewhere. Heyman notes that rivals don’t view Kennedy as a surefire qualifying offer candidate, but his recent surge should make it worthwhile for the Padres to extend the roughly $16MM one-year offer. I’d expect that Kennedy, a client of Scott Boras, would decline the offer and test the free agent waters.