TODAY: The D’Backs officially announced the signing, also including the detail that Kennedy’s contract includes a mutual option for the 2023 season.
MARCH 13: The Diamondbacks are in agreement on a one-year deal with reliever Ian Kennedy, reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is worth $4.75MM plus $2.35MM in incentives. Kennedy, 37, returns to the place of his initial big league success, as he had a strong three-plus-year run as a member of Arizona’s rotation from 2010-13. The righty is represented by the Boras Corporation.
Kennedy signed a five-year, $70MM free agent deal with the Royals back in January of 2016. Kennedy scuffled in the second and third years of that deal, missing a large chunk of the second half of 2018 with an oblique injury. By 2019, the Royals felt they’d get more value out of Kennedy in a relief role. That proved correct, as he served as the team’s closer that year and saved 30 games with a 3.41 ERA.
Kennedy failed to get on track in the shortened 2020 season, suffering from a calf strain and generally working in the middle innings. In February of last year, Kennedy wound up with the Rangers on a minor league deal. He made the team and generally worked as the Rangers’ closer until he was traded to the Phillies along with Kyle Gibson. On the season Kennedy worked to a 3.20 ERA, 27.2 K%, 7.5 BB%, and 23.3 groundball rate in 56 1/3 innings. It was the lowest groundball rate of his 15-year career, so the resulting 12 home runs allowed were no surprise. Statcast doesn’t speak highly of Kennedy’s work in 2021.
Kennedy will not likely be asked to close by D’Backs manager Torey Lovullo, as the team inked longtime stopper Mark Melancon to a two-year, $14MM deal prior to the lockout. Though Arizona tied the Orioles for the worst record in baseball in 2021, GM Mike Hazen isn’t looking to launch a rebuild. Third base remains an area of need, though Mike Puma of the New York Post reported that the Diamondbacks were “among the teams showing the most interest in [Michael] Conforto before the lockout.”
Kennedy was one of seven relievers to reach or near an agreement on a big league deal today, along with Jesse Chavez, Matt Strahm, Jake Diekman, Adam Ottavino, Nick Wittgren, and Brad Boxberger. Click here to see which relievers are still available.