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 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.
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.