The Texas Rangers brought Ian Kennedy in on non-roster deal at the beginning of spring training. What role will he fill, if any, should he make the team?
Ian Kennedy was a very good starting pitcher during the late-2000s and early-2010s, but since fell off the older he has gotten.
But after signing with the Kansas City in 2016, Kennedy saw his career revived as a member of the Royals’ bullpen.
Kennedy became the Royals’ closer in 2019, and put up really solid numbers at the backend of the ‘pen for KC.
He appeared in 63 games for the Royals that season, saving 30 games and blowing four. He sported a 3.41 ERA over 63.1 innings pitched, while striking out 73 and only walking 17.
Heading into 2020, Kennedy had locked down the closer’s role, but struggled to a 9.00 ERA over 15 games with the Royals.
He walked in free agency, and the Texas Rangers may have found a diamond in the rough.
For Ian Kennedy and the Texas Rangers, you could say it was a match literally made in heaven:
"“I felt like God was leading me towards here. It sounded really familiar of what I’ve been used to the last couple years. I really enjoy it, the mentor role. Sure, I get a chance to pitch later in the games, but as soon as I focus on others, my performance on the field will take care of itself.” – Ian Kennedy"
Kennedy, by no means, is guaranteed a spot in the Texas Rangers’ bullpen on Opening Day, but could be very likely headed for one based on the youth of the bullpen.
Ian Kennedy has a decent shot at making the Texas Rangers’ bullpen in 2021.
The average age of the bullpen arms on the 40-man roster currently is just over 25-years old.
The Rangers could definitely use another veteran presence to go along with Jose Leclerc and Joely Rodriguez in the bullpen, especially if the latter is scheduled to start the year on the I.L.
If Kennedy were to make the roster out of spring, who would he replace on the roster?
Well, Joely Rodriguez is one option if he does begin the year on the I.L., but I believe it will come at the expense of someone’s 40-man spot.
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Joe Gatto has been roughed up this spring, and even with his good stuff, he has yet to find success in the strike zone.
If the Rangers don’t hang on to Brett de Geus, Kennedy could take the Rule 5 draftee’s spot on the active roster, as well.
I highly doubt de Geus gets offered back to the Dodgers, but crazier things have happened at the back-end of spring training.
Regardless of whose spot Kennedy takes, I believe that his veteran presence will be enough for him to crack the Opening Day roster.
If so, he presents a reliable multi-inning reliever to pair with Wes Benjamin or John King, that can be dealt for a few low-level prospects at the deadline if he pitches well.
For the Rangers, the acquisition of Ian Kennedy can only be a win-win in a season where they are not expected to contend.
As spring progresses, we’ll see if Kennedy’s spring numbers or his veteran presence land him on the active roster, but I’d expect to see #31 on the Rangers’ roster very soon.