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.