Pitcher Ian Kennedy has finally found himself a home with the Kansas City Royals and agreed to a five-year contract worth $70 million this weekend, according to sources cited by the Associated Press. The deal reportedly includes an opt-out after his first two years. Multiple news outlets have also confirmed the deal, but the team itself has yet to announce the move officially.
The 31-year-old right-hander was previously with the San Diego Padres. Last season, he went 9-15 with a 4.28 ERA and a total of 174 strikeouts. In each of the last six seasons, he has had 30 or more starts, peaking at 33 starts in both 2011 and 2012 for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Baseball-Reference.com's records indicate that in Kennedy's eight seasons playing in the major league, he had gone 75-68 with 1,140 strikeouts and a 3.98 ERA. His best season was with the Diamondbacks in 2011 when he went 21-4 and pitched to a 2.88 ERA. He also ended up finishing fourth in National League Cy Young Award voting for the same year.
The newly minted Royals pitcher will join Edinson Volquez and Yordano Ventura in the Kansas City rotation. Chris Young, Danny Duffy and Kris Medlen are among the candidates for the club's last two spots.
The Royals have long been perceived as a frugal organization. Surprisingly, they have spent lavishly in recent years, signaling that the small-market club views the next couple of years as a prime opportunity to snatch another championship, ABC News observes. They already brought back All-Star outfielder Alex Gordon on a $72 million, four-year deal this offseason. The team likewise signed former closer Joakim Soria to a $25 million, three-year contract.
Furthermore, the Royals have avoided the next two years of arbitration with Lorenzo Cain by agreeing to a two-year, $17.5 million deal, according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. The All-Star outfielder's deal will cover his final two years of arbitration eligibility and will make him a free agent after the 2017 season. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports predicts that this means Cain, who was previously seeking a long-term deal, will likely leave after his new contract extension expires.
The 29-year-old center fielder is coming off a career season in which he hit .307/.361/.477 with 16 HR 72 RBI; stats that also made him his first All-Star Game. Cain finished third in the American League Most Valuable Player voting. He ranked second in the American League in stolen bases (28), and both fifth in batting average (.307) and runs (101).
Kansas City originally acquired Cain from the Milwaukee Brewers in the Zack Greinke trade deal prior to the 2011 season. He has been a .286/.336/.418 hitter while donning a Royals jersey. He had been struggling to stay on the field because of injuries. However, Cain did manage to play in a career-high of 140 games last year.