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.
With all these MiLB deals, will the Round Rock Express be a better team than the Rangers?
They’ll be better than the Pirates.
A lot of those guys have opt outs so I doubt they’ll end up in AAA if they don’t make the team (I know your post was at least somewhat tongue in cheek, just sayin)
When will they have a schedule up?
I absolutely love the amount of MiLB signings we’ve had for relievers this off-season. We have at least 12 to choose from for the two remaining spots in the big-league pen out of ST.
Generally speaking, I think completely ignoring 2020 numbers on guys w/ a track record who stunk will work out more often than not. I just think giving veterans a normal spring training will lead to expected results from guys like Kennedy.
This one hurts as a Braves fan…he’s the last RP I was holding out hope for an under-the-radar signing that I liked. Feels like he would have been an easy upgrade for a guaranteed $1 mil deal. AA has the benefit of the doubt for off-season signings, but I’m still waiting to see where all the “excess” from backloading Ozuna is going to go and the options are dwindling.
No harm in bringing in a veteran like him on a minor league deal. He was excellent the last time we had a more normal season. Maybe he can bounce back to some degree in 2020. If he can, he could make a nice trade deadline piece.
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I have to be honest: in my mind I had pictured him as a mostly mediocre starter who could eat innings and give up a few too many homers but that was it outside of a couple good seasons. But looking at his number, he’s been pretty consistently solid, last year notwithstanding. Shows what I know.
He’s had a decent career. I remember when him, Joba and Hughes were going to be the next best thing. Similar to the Mets Generation K, it never quite panned out. Hughes had nice years as a reliever, and that one year as a starter where he walked almost no one. Joba was fast out of the gate, then fizzled out. Kennedy will end up the best of the bunch, like you stated, consistently solid. Though I’m sure Arizona would want Scherzer back.
Kennedy will always be the player that received the contract that shocked me the most. When I saw what the Royals paid him I was amazed. How a 4th starter ok 3rd on a very good day (at the time) got that contract should be taught to all players in the minors.
I would consider Jose LeClerc far from a sure thing, considering his recent injury/performance issues. Jonathan Hernandez, however, is as close to a sure thing as the Rangers have in the bullpen.
Atheletic Mariner’s Angel
You can never have too much pitching