A collective sigh could be heard over the city of San Diego Friday afternoon, as Ian Kennedy has not accepted his qualifying offer from the San Diego Padres. He would have received $15.8 million dollars this season if he accepted, instead he will be a free agent, effective immediately.
The Padres were very smart in offering Kennedy a qualifying offer. Although some questioned their wisdom initially. Being a client of Scott Boras meant that Kennedy was more that likely going to seek the bigger payday with multiple years. He will do just that, and will look for a multi-year deal in the $30-40 million dollar range.
The fact that both Kennedy and Justin Upton both rejected their qualifying offer, means the team will get two extra picks in the 2016 draft (unless they choose to sign another free agent who received a qualifying offer). Essentially the Padres can have three picks within the first 50 players or so selected. That will go a long ways towards strengthening the farm system that was depleted this past offseason.
Losing Kennedy from the rotation leaves the Padres with James Shields, Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner, Colin Rea, Odrisamer Despaigne and Robbie Erlin as rotation possibilities. Brandon Maurer would have probably been included in this list, but with the trades of Joaquin Benoit and Craig Kimbrel, he will most likely open the season as the team’s closer.
Kennedy had an up-and-down career as a Padres pitcher. In three seasons, Kennedy went 26-30 with a 3.97 ERA and a 1.298 WHIP. He struck out 436 batters in 426.2 innings while walking 147. He had stretches of dominance with the club, but also had stretches where he was inconsistent and his velocity was down.
The likelihood of Kennedy returning is very small. He is a client of Scott Boras and the Padres do not traditionally have a good working relationship with him or his clients. I wouldn’t rule anything out, but Kennedy would have to take a pay cut to return to San Diego, and that is just not in Scott Boras’ language.
A great gamble for the Padres will pay off with the farm system in the next 12 months. With the three high draft picks and the six prospects gained from Benoit and Kimbrel, the Padres are on their way to rebuilding their farm system. The trades cost the franchise their two best relievers, but the front realizes that with some hard work the team can find some decent replacements. The offseason has just started, and already A.J. Preller hasn’t disappointed with his moves.