The Rangers will sign reliever Ian Kennedy to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, per MLB Network’s Jon Heyman (via Twitter). The Boras Corporation client will earn $2.15MM if he makes the team, plus more in performance incentives, per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand (via Twitter).
Kennedy is coming off a five-year run with the Royals that included a full-time transition to the bullpen in 2019. After more than nine seasons of working out of the rotation for the Yankees, Diamondbacks, Padres and Royals, Kennedy became Kansas City’s full-time closer in 2019, tossing 63 1/3 innings in 63 appearances with a 3.41 ERA/2.99 FIP, 44.4 percent groundball rate, 27.4 percent strikeout rate, and 6.4 percent walk rate. All three of those rate metrics clock in above average.
Kennedy unfortunately struggled to find his footing in 2020, logging a 9.00 ERA/8.83 FIP in 14 innings. He suffered a left calf strain that ended his season before September. If healthy, he’ll have a real chance to make a Rangers bullpen that’s light on sure-things beyond closer José Leclerc. Even entering his age-36 season, Kennedy represents a fairly high upside signing for Texas considering his hefty resume. Kennedy owns a 4.13 ERA/4.25 FIP in 1,781 1/3 innings in the big leagues.