Red Sox: Ian Kennedy is Ideal Low-Risk, High-Reward FA


It is no secret that the Boston Red Sox are in need of a starting pitcher. Boston’s rotation, which mainly consisted of Clay Buchholtz, Wade Miley, Rick Porcello, Joe Kelly, and Eduardo Rodriguez, has potential to be above average, but the key word there is potential.

Buchholtz did not play a full season (again), Miley walked a lot of batters, Porcello and Kelly gave up a bunch of hits, and the 22-year-old Rodriguez experienced the growing pains of pitching in the majors.

Miley, Kelly, and Porcello each made up for their lackluster starts with strong finishes. Miley enjoyed a 3.97 ERA in September after a dreadful first half of the season (4.80 ERA before the All-Star break), Kelly thrived in August (2.68 ERA) and September (3.86), and Porcello made us forget about his embarrassing first half with a 3.74 ERA in September.

Even with these impressive turnarounds, the Red Sox still need to upgrade their rotation either via free agency or by a trade. As enticing as David Price or Zach Greinke might be, the last thing the Red Sox want is another Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, or Carl Crawford on their hands.

For some reason, big name free agents do not work in Boston and cause more harm than good. My suggestion would be to invest in a mid-tier free agent, so that the Sox avoid excessive spending. Ian Kennedy is certainly one cheap option if the Sox want to gamble.

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Kennedy will be 31-years-old when the 2016 season begins and became a free agent after he rejected the Padres’ $15.8 million qualifying offer.

He pitched only 168.1 innings this past year, which was his lowest since 2009 when he only pitched one inning as a September call-up. In 2015, he owned a 4.28 ERA overall, but in the second half of the season he enjoyed a 3.64 ERA. Kennedy’s weakness was giving up the long ball; he coughed 31 home runs on the year (20 in the first half), which was the fourth most in the entire league.

Despite his struggles, he averaged 9.3 strikeouts per 9 innings (13th highest in the MLB). In addition, unlike some of the pitchers on Boston’s roster, Kennedy does not walk opposing batters often.

Lastly, he is only one season removed from a stellar 2014 season where he owned a 3.63 ERA, struck out 207 batters, and only walked 70 hitters in 201.0 innings. The Red Sox are surely in the market for a strikeout pitcher like Kennedy and would be ecstatic if they could have a starter who could pitch close to 200 innings.

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The main downside with Ian Kennedy is that the Red Sox would have to give up a draft pick in order to sign him. Still, Kennedy might be worth it if he can rekindle his 2014 form. The Sox also have a fairly deep farm system even after the Craig Kimbrel deal.

Kennedy might not be a popular choice, but it could prove to be the type of low-risk high-reward transaction that pays off.