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The LA Dodgers Should Target Royals Reliever Ian Kennedy in a Trade

Yes, this is about that Ian Kennedy, who is now a pretty good reliever

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - JULY 15: Relief pitcher Ian Kennedy #31 of the Kansas City Royals throws in the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium on July 15, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

If you haven’t noticed, Ian Kennedy is good now. The former starting pitcher, who has some history against the Dodgers, was converted to a reliever this season and has reinvented himself. He did so well the Royals named him their closer.

Since he’s a reliever who can get outs, the Dodgers should have interest in him.

A Breakdown of Kennedy

The difference in the starting version of Kennedy and the relief pitcher version has been night and day. Out of the bullpen this season, he has posted a 3.43 ERA, 2.33 FIP, 3.73 xFIP, 3.41 DRA, 10.75 K/9 and 2.29 BB/9. He also has 17 saves in 20 chances.

Looking at his profile below, he has been excellent in just about everything you would want a pitcher to do well in.

He throws four pitches: a fastball in the mid-90’s, a cutter in the low-90’s, a curveball in the low-80’s, and an occasional changeup in the upper-80’s.

His primary pitch is his fastball, which he uses 67% of the time. It is graded as his best pitch by Fangraphs’ pitch values.

His second most used pitch is his curveball, which gets 58 inches of vertical break and is 5.7 inches more than the league average curveball, according to Baseball Savant.

If he’s acquired, Kennedy would immediately step into a high-leverage role and become their fill-in closer when Kenley Jansen is unavailable.

The Cost

The downside of Kennedy is he has an average annual value of $16.5 million through next season. The Royals would likely need to pay close to 55% of that to receive a mid-tier prospect back, according to Royals Review.

They could also attach another player like Jake Diekman, who the Dodgers have interest in, to help them get another or a better player back.

A deal for both of them, even with the Royals paying all of Kennedy’s salary, wouldn’t cost any of the top prospects. The deal would likely be headlined by a prospect or two in the seven to 15 range and completed with an upside flier. Think something like Edwin Rios or Dennis Santana plus Jeren Kendall and Cody Thomas.

Conclusion

Ian Kennedy is one of the best relievers no one is talking about. The Dodgers aren’t going to pay his entire salary, but if the Royals pay at least half of it and/or package him with Diekman, he would be a big acquisition for the Dodgers. Between Kennedy and Diekman, the Royals are probably the Dodgers’ most likely trade partner this season.

Written by Blake Williams

I graduated with an Associate's Degree in Journalism from Los Angeles Pierce College and now I'm working towards my Bachelor's at Cal State University, Northridge. I'm currently the managing editor for the Roundup News and a writer for Dodgers Nation. Around the age of 12, I fell in love with baseball and in high school, I realized my best path to working in baseball was as a writer, so that's the path I followed. I also like to bring an analytics viewpoint to my work and I'm always willing to help someone understand them since so many people have done the same for me. Thanks for reading!

12 Comments

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  1. No thanks…..we don’t need another Ryan Madson. Stop looking at the cheap options. Don’t want to give up our top tier prospects for the top tier relievers = No Rings!!!!

    • Exactly. Always trying to win rings in the future but never recognizing when the future has arrived. This is the team to go all in for, we have arrived now do it Friedman

      • Let me ask you this… Would you deal Lux and or May and Will Smith for a top tier reliever? I would not and I would think most here would want to see these 3 I mentioned in Dodger Blue soon and not playing for someone else , while we fail to have even reached the WS for other reasons besides a poor BP.

  2. Great information thank you. This sounds like a Friedman type deal and could very possibly happen. We can be fairly confident that unless the Pirates are willing to trade Velasquez who would rate a first-line blue-chip talent like Ruiz they will very intelligently trade a mid-level player that is probably blocked from getting up to the Major league club by a young talent that is as good or better.
    I think they could with the emergence of Beaty and Smith knocking on the door trade Pederson. Just think of the HR’s Pederson would hit in a smaller hitter’s park.
    I like Diekman as he could be a Lefty-type specialist which the Dodgers no longer have and could use in the playoffs.

  3. Frankly, I would prefer a lefty. And, based on what I saw last night, two relievers are needed. We cannot trust a big lead with anyone. Go Blue!!!

    • BLUE LOU! I agree here as does PD Jr. I saw last night’s game but I can only hope that the relievers do not cost us Lux, May or Smith because as bad as this current BP is, 2 top tier relievers, as I just said earlier will not guarantee a ring if the rest of the pitching staff surrenders a lot of HR.s and Dodgers return to their strike out ways with RISP wih less than 2 outs, leaving a ton of runners on base.

  4. I like the idea here! Also something that would be great is if they’d be interested in adding Merryfield so they can get one of those top guys and Dodgers shouldn’t be afraid to trade MLB guys in it too. We got players who are ready to contribute rn. Maybe a Ruiz/Smith and DJ Peters with some extra mid tier guys gets it done if there’s an MLB guys on it too. We should definitely be buying from the Royals.

  5. Not keen on getting Kennedy. He was noted for headhunting back in the day. Maybe he has changed. But we always seemed to get beanballs from him when he faced us. Other teams said the same. Not the same as playing to win. We should stay away from him. Plenty of other trade target relievers out there.

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