Well here’s a fun, different wrinkle for this year’s Trade Deadline activities …
The Arizona Diamondbacks are in the market for a starting pitcher – they’ve been mentioned as frontrunners for Jake Peavy – but they’re also in the market to trade a starting pitcher. The team has had a glut of decent pitchers for a while now, and is reportedly shopping Ian Kennedy around the league, in part to open up some payroll space to take on someone like Peavy.
Kennedy, 28, is having a down year (5.22 ERA, 2.24 K/BB (each way down for him versus recent years)), and is poised to get a bump from his $4.265 million salary in arbitration next year, his second of three arbitration years. He looks like something of a “buy low” opportunity for a team that can afford to take him on, both financially, and if he struggles the rest of this year.
Hmm, what team might be in a position to do that?
Well, Buster Olney says it could be the Cubs (mentioned together with the Angels and Padres), and it doesn’t sound like Olney is just connecting dots. If the price was right – read: minimal prospect return – there’d be no reason for the Cubs not to explore Kennedy. The Cubs are still in accumulation mode, especially when it comes to big league level or big league ready pitching. Kennedy could present an interesting option for the Cubs in 2014, depending on what they do with the rest of the rotation.
Before you go nuts, could Kennedy be part of a larger deal involving Jeff Samardzija (in whom the Diamondbacks are believed to have interest)? In essence, the Diamondbacks give up prospects to “trade up” to Samardzija, since he offers similar team control? Sure, it’s possible in the sense that anything is possible, and there’s some internal logic there. But a Samardzija deal remains so unlikely that I’m just not going to go there.
For now, let’s just assume this is much simpler: there’s a team that appears very motivated to unload Kennedy, and he appears to be something of an interesting buy low candidate that the Cubs could actually use. He’s just a year removed from back-to-back solid seasons (one of which – 2011 – was fantastic).
Of course, the Diamondbacks will likely sell him as the guy he was in 2011, so these things tend not to be as simple as they appear. Further, if you’re the Cubs, unless the Diamondbacks absolutely have to move Kennedy before they can do whatever else they want to do at the Deadline (and will sell him super cheaply for that reason), there’s really no rush to make this move now, as opposed to after the season.
If the Diamondbacks are looking to deal Kennedy for something that helps them this year, however, the Cubs are a tough fit (unless it’s to get a prospect or two that are spun off). The Diamondbacks could definitely use help in the pen, but Kevin Gregg isn’t the guy. Maybe James Russell is a possibility, but I’m not so sure he doesn’t have more value, when considering contracts, than Kennedy. I’d have to think on that for a bit.