Right-hander Ian Kennedy is retiring, he told Evan Thompson of Sport Relay during last night’s World Series celebration. While Kennedy indicated he had made the decision that this would be his final season going into 2023, he acknowledged “there’s no better way to go out” than as a member of a Rangers team that clinched the franchise’s first title.
The Yankees selected Kennedy in the first round of the 2006 draft. The USC product reached the majors a little more than a year later, debuting as a September call-up in ’07. He saw limited action in the Bronx over the next two-plus seasons. During the 2009-10 offseason, the Yanks dealt Kennedy to the Diamondbacks as part of the three-team blockbuster that moved Max Scherzer to Detroit and Curtis Granderson to New York.
Kennedy spent three and a half seasons as a key piece of the Arizona rotation. He led the National League with 21 wins while pitching to a 2.88 ERA across 222 innings in 2011, securing a fourth-place finish in NL Cy Young balloting. At the 2013 deadline, the Snakes flipped Kennedy to the Padres for Joe Thatcher. He worked out of the San Diego rotation for two and a half seasons, eating around 200 innings annually with a combined 3.97 ERA.
Going into 2016, the Royals signed the hurler to a five-year, $70MM free agent pact. After posting a 3.68 ERA across 33 starts during his first season in K.C., Kennedy struggled in 2017-18. He reinvented himself as a closer in 2019, saving 30 games while posting a 3.41 ERA. He was hit hard in the shortened season and landed with the Rangers on a minor league pact in 2021.
Kennedy had a strong rebound showing in Texas, emerging as one of the better rental relievers on that summer’s trade market. The Rangers dealt him alongside Kyle Gibson to the Phillies. He played out the stretch with Philadelphia, then returned to Arizona on a $4.75MM free agent deal. Kennedy’s return to the desert didn’t go well. He re-signed with the Rangers for 2023, logging 16 1/3 frames over a pair of stints. While he wasn’t on the active roster for Texas’ playoff run, he capped off his playing days with a ring.
It was a storybook punctuation to a 17-year run in the majors. Kennedy logged a little over 1900 innings between six teams, posting a 4.16 ERA. He struck out 1775 hitters, won 104 games and collected 66 saves after his late-career bullpen move. According to Baseball Reference, he banked over $101MM in career earnings. MLBTR congratulates Kennedy on an excellent run and wishes him the best in retirement.