Report: Royals to sign Ian Kennedy for five years, $70 million

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The noteworthy signings keep on coming on this Saturday morning. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that the Royals and Ian Kennedy have reached agreement on a five-year, $70 million contract. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal hears that the deal includes an opt-out after two years.

Coming off a 4.28 ERA with 31 homers allowed in 168 1/3 innings in 2015, Kennedy received a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Padres in November. Many were surprised that the 31-year-old didn’t take the qualifying offer, as it was assumed that it would severely impact his market. For most of the winter, it seemingly did, but Scott Boras ended up landing a pretty nice deal for his client here. It’s just a shade under what Mike Leake and Wei-Yin Chen (five years, $80 million) received.

The Royals, who have been linked to Kennedy for the past couple of weeks, will surrender their first-round pick in order to sign him. He’ll be reunited with his former pitching coach Dave Eiland and join a rotation which includes names like Edinson Volquez, Yordano Ventura, Kris Medlen, Danny Duffy, and Chris Young.

While it hasn’t shown in his ERA, Kennedy has struck out 24.4 percent of the batters he has faced over the past two seasons. Pitching in the National League has surely helped, so we’ll likely see that number go down with the Royals, but only 18 starting pitchers (min. 250 IP) have a higher strikeout percentage in that timespan. Kennedy has also been durable, making at least 30 starts in each of the last six seasons. Still, this is a heck of a job by Boras after Kennedy’s market has been quiet all winter.

Blake Snell becomes client of Boras Corporation

Blake Snell
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Ken Rosenthal and Josh Tolentino of The Athletic report that Rays starter Blake Snell has switched agencies, going from Apex Baseball to Boras Corporation. Snell is currently signed to a five-year, $50 million contract and will be under contract through 2023.

Snell found himself in hot water two weeks ago when he said on his Twitch stream that he wouldn’t risk his life to play baseball during a pandemic while receiving significantly reduced pay. Some described Snell as tone deaf for saying, “I gotta get my money. I’m not playing unless I get mine, okay?”

Boras represents many of baseball’s highest-paid players, including Gerrit Cole and Bryce Harper. Snell is not likely to win over any of the people he recently irritated by appearing to go after more money by hiring the highest-profile agent. What often goes unsaid is that players have a very limited window in which to use their elite athletic skills to make money.

Snell won the 2018 AL Cy Young Award, going 21-5 with a 1.89 ERA and a 221/64 K/BB ratio over 180 2/3 innings. He did not have nearly the same success last year, going 6-8 with a 4.29 ERA and a 147/40 K/BB ratio in 107 innings.