Padres right-hander Ian Kennedy will reject the team’s qualifying offer and seek a multi-year deal on the free-agent market, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported yesterday that Kennedy was planning to reject the offer, and he did just that rather than following the path of fellow Scott Boras client Matt Wieters in accepting he one-year pact.
Many have speculated that Kennedy would accept the offer due to a poor start to the season and a problem with home runs in 2015, but the longstanding belief at MLBTR has been that Kennedy’s durability and penchant for strikeouts would lead to a multi-year deal on the open market. The right-hander ranks fourth in the NL in innings pitched dating back to 2011 and he’s averaged 8.5 K/9 against 2.1 BB/9 in that time to go along with a 3.89 ERA/3.87 FIP/3.78 xFIP.
The 30-year-old Kennedy did have some struggles in 2015, namely an abnormal susceptibility to home runs. Kennedy logged a dreadful 7.15 ERA through the first two months of the season, but he rebounded with a 3.41 ERA and 137-to-38 K/BB ratio over his final 129 1/3 innings (22 starts).
Over the course of his career, 10.7 percent of fly-balls off Kennedy have turned into home runs, but that number soared to an uncharacteristic — and probably fluky — 17.2 percent in 2015. A return to his normal rate in that regard should lead to dramatically improved bottom-line results from Kennedy, who recorded the best K%-BB% mark of his career this past season.
It’s hard to peg a specific market for the veteran at this point, as none of the starting pitching pieces have fallen into place. Generally, though, he lands comfortably in the mid-tier of free agent rotation options. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes rated him the 19th-best player available, sandwiched between Scott Kazmir and Yovani Gallardo, and predicted that Kennedy will land a deal in the range of four-years and $52MM deal in spite of the QO.