The Winter Meetings are happening right now, which means that baseball writers get to report every rumor they hear and the rest of us get to freak out over them. And Baggs had a fun one yesterday, with "fun one" in this case meaning "soul-draining inevitability":
Giants have had multiple conversations with Boras group about all their pitchers. Ian Kennedy obviously much more familiar than Chen.— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) December 9, 2015
Well surely that's just speculation, right? Surely they're just doing tires, kicking their due diligence...
Clubs seldom find the right kind of financial "separation" with a Boras client. But the Giants have liked Kennedy for a long time. They even had Matt Cain study tapes of Kennedy’s clean delivery when the right-hander was trying to make adjustments pre- and post-elbow surgery. And it’s not such a big deal that Kennedy would cost a draft pick, since the Giants already surrendered their first-rounder to sign Jeff Samardzija.
Now, why am I so dead-set against the Giants getting Ian Kennedy? After all, he's had some very good years in the majors, his peripherals have always been excellent, and Giants scouts, who certainly know more than my stupid eyes, love him. He's durable, he knows the NL West, and he's exactly the sort of pitcher who will make fans of every other team say "Well of COURSE Ian Kennedy was the 2016 NLCS MVP" before pouting in our general direction.
But oh, man, he's Ian Kennedy. Ian Kennedy. This was supposed to be the offseason when the Giants were in on Zack Greinke and if not him they'd get David Price and if not him they'd get Jordan Zimmermann and if not him they'd look at Kenta Maeda and Wei-Yin Chen (who, it should be noted, is still a possible target) and pitchers who are actually interesting. There was supposed to be a toy surprise at the bottom of the box, and instead we found a potato. Potatoes aren't bad, you know. You can do a lot of good things with a potato. But it's not what anyone wanted.
And then add to that, that Ian Kennedy is an uninspiring pitcher with pretty good stuff who generally underperforms his peripherals, and you realize: Ian Kennedy is a poor man's Jeff Samardzija. We just got one of those. You don't buy a couple boxes of Cheerios, and then throw in two boxes of Safeway Brand Toasted Oats too.
Also remember, Kennedy declined his qualifying offer. The Padres offered him $16 million, and he said, "Nah, I'm Ian Kennedy, and I can definitely do better than that even when the team that signs me has to give up a draft pick," which as sentences go, is certainly one a human person would say. Logically, then, it would follow that Ian Kennedy is looking for more than $16 million per year or he's looking for a lot of years. Both of those options are about as palatable as a tripe souffle.
I've just ended three straight paragraphs with food metaphors. A new personal best!
The other issue with the qualifying offer is that if the Giants signed Kennedy, they would lose their second-round draft pick. They already lost the first-rounder for Samardzija, so in that sense they're kinda coming out ahead, but do you want to give up an asset as well as a lot of money here? Last year's second round pick was Andrew Suarez, and the year before the Giants took Aramis Garcia. Would you trade Suarez or Garcia straight up for a long Ian Kennedy contract? The Giants haven't found too many stars in the second round, but they have picked Andrew Susac, Nate Schierholtz, and Fred Lewis there, all useful major league players.
Plus, for two of the last three years, he's been downright bad. And even in 2014, where Fangraphs has him as a 3.5 win player, he didn't do especially well. A 3.63 ERA in Petco is just never, ever going to be impressive. Since going to San Diego, Kennedy's been bad, mostly because of his HR/FB%, which has gone up even though the park's so big you can't see the left fielder from second base. Kennedy's a fly ball pitcher too, so not only would he be particularly ill-suited to make use of the Giants' fantastic infield defense, but his inability to keep the ball in the yard at Petco would translate to AT&T Park.
So the cost of Ian Kennedy would be something like this: a lot of money over several years, a second-round pick, every Giants fan grumbling about how Giants of a move it is, and the opportunity to find a better, more inspiring starter. Is he really worth it?