The Yankees’ rotation has been one of the biggest story lines of the season thus far, as they have arguably the best pitcher in baseball, Masahiro Tanaka, and a bunch of pitchers who could be considered the worst. Hiroki Kuroda has seemed to turn the corner on the mound as he has turned in a quality start four out of his last five games. Outside of the top two pitchers, the Yankees are really struggling in rotation depth. C.C. Sabathia is starting a rehab assignment and Michael Pineda will most likely be injured forever, so the Yankees won’t have internal relief for a while. With the trade deadline approaching, the time is now to start looking for replacements in the rotation.
One pitcher who may be available is right-hander Ian Kennedy of the San Diego Padres. The name should sound familiar to Yankee fans as he was once a big time Yankee prospect before being dealt to Arizona in a three team trade that brought Curtis Granderson to the Bronx back in 2010. In his time in Arizona, Kennedy did well with a spectacular 2011 campaign where he went 21-4 with a 2.88 ERA. Currently, Kennedy is with a weak San Diego Padres team that recently fired their General Manager and may be looking to rebuild with a young core of Andrew Cashner, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Jedd Gyorko.
It may not be the blockbuster deal that some Yankee fans are hoping for, but a deal for Ian Kennedy would most likely come at a much cheaper price than Jeff Samardzija or David Price. With Chase Headley under-performing and entering his walk year, San Diego will have an opening at the hot corner entering 2015. Would the Yankees be willing to part with power prospect Peter O’Brien in order to land Kennedy? This year Kennedy is pitching better than his record as he has a 3.90 ERA and has struck out 103 batters in 97 innings of work.
While Kennedy’s pitching style is more groomed for a spacious outfield (Fly Ball Rate of 37.50% this year), he would have to be an improvement over the struggling Vidal Nuno. Outside of O’Brien, the Yankees could offer a player like Jose Pirela or Zoilo Almonte to acquire him. Kennedy is in team control for another season after 2014 and is currently on a cheap $6 million arbitration contract.
Is Ian Kennedy the top target for the Yankees? No. Is he a reasonable option to acquire at the deadline? Yes. The Yankees will explore many options to improve their inconsistent rotation over the next couple of weeks so keep an eye on Kennedy’s name as the deadline approaches.