(Photo Credit: David Hague)

Pirates Among Teams That Scouted Ian Kennedy Last Night

The Pittsburgh Pirates were one of the teams who scouted San Diego right-hander Ian Kennedy last night, according to Ken Rosenthal.

I really liked Ian Kennedy as a trade option last year. He was having a down year in Arizona, and ended up getting traded for a low return. The Diamondbacks got a LOOGY reliever, a relief pitching prospect, and a second round pick this year. This was all at the time when the Pirates were going for Bud Norris, and I said at the time that I would have rather had Kennedy.

This time around, Kennedy will cost more, as he has bounced back. He’s currently got a 3.62 ERA, which is supported by a 3.24 xFIP. He’s got a 9.5 K/9 and a 2.6 BB/9. He’s making $6.1 M this year, and I project he’ll see a raise to about $9 M next year in his final year of arbitration.

Looking at his trade value, it’s hard to know where to project him. He’s on pace for over a 4.0 WAR this year, and his previous high was a 4.9 WAR in 2011. However, he had a 2.8 WAR in 2012, and was only a 0.5 WAR pitcher last year. So projecting him as a 4+ win pitcher going forward might be optimistic. It also might be too low to have him below a 3.0 WAR, since he has shown signs of being much better than that level. I’d find a middle ground, and project him as a 3.5 WAR pitcher going forward.

Ian Kennedy Trade Value

NOTE: The purpose here isn’t to suggest the Pirates are offering this amount for these players.  The purpose is to see the value of these players, using projected values (calculated as [(WAR*$5 M) – Salary]) and prospect trade values. We use our updated values for top 100 prospects, and Victor Wang’s research on prospect values for non-top 100 prospects.

Using that 3.5 WAR figure, plus his salary of $6.1 M this year, and a projected $9 M salary next year, I project his trade value to be $12.5 M. You might even bump that up a bit, as Kennedy could be good enough for a qualifying offer in a few years, which could land a draft pick. Looking at the trade value charts, he would be worth a top 51-100 hitting prospect, plus a Grade C pitcher, or a 26-50 pitching prospect.

Guys who rate in the 51-100 range for the Pirates are Reese McGuire and Alen Hanson. I wouldn’t part with McGuire, as his defense and ability to stick behind the plate are both outstanding. He’s got the best shot of being the catcher of the future for the Pirates. Any decision to part with Hanson really depends on how much you think of Jordy Mercer as the current shortstop, and how much you think of JaCoby Jones as a future shortstop. Obviously Hanson is no guarantee to stick at the shortstop position himself, as he lacks consistency. He does have a good bat for the position, and has the skills needed to play at short. From a depth perspective, I’m not sure I would deal Hanson either. But I could see the logic behind it if Jones could stick at short, and if Mercer could bridge the gap until that happens.

The pitching prospect route might be easier for the Pirates to take, since they have a lot of quality pitching prospects. The only guy who might rank in the 26-50 range is Nick Kingham. Kennedy is a good pitcher, but Kingham is close to Major League ready, and profiles as a solid middle of the rotation starter. He doesn’t come with a lot of risk, so that would be a lot to give up for Kennedy, even with the good season Kennedy is having.

I don’t think I would deal any of the top seven prospects in the system for Kennedy. Anyone after that would be fair game, with the exception of the 2014 draft picks, who can’t be traded. I like what the Pirates currently have in their rotation. You don’t want to replace Charlie Morton or Jeff Locke. You’re definitely not replacing Gerrit Cole. Francisco Liriano is a wild card, but if he shows more of what he showed last night, then he’ll be as good, or better than Kennedy. Then there’s Edinson Volquez, who has been great lately, although getting a bit lucky based on the split between his 3.65 ERA and 4.29 xFIP.

If you need to replace Volquez, there’s Brandon Cumpton and Vance Worley. I think Kennedy is a better option than both of those guys, and he’s a better option than Volquez. You could also call up Kingham in the second half, although that’s another situation where Kennedy would probably be better than a rookie.

While Kennedy would upgrade over those pitchers, I just don’t think the upgrade he brings would be worth one of the top prospects in the system. If a deal could work with a group of guys in the middle of the system, then that would be a deal the Pirates should pursue.

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • lonleylibertarian

    Waste of time and money – Kennedy = Cumpton and the Bucs already have one of these…

    • marty34156

      Kennedy is much, much better than Cumpton.

      • Andy Prough

        Oh please.

        • marty34156

          Cumpton: 4.98 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 3.34 FIP, 10.8 hits per 9IP, 5.5 K per 9 IP, 2.4 walks per 9 IP.

          Kennedy: 3.62 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 2.98 FIP, 8.4 hits per 9 IP, 9.5 K per 9 IP, 2.6 walks per 9 IP.

          What’re you smoking? Kennedy, as I said, is much, much better than Cumpton.

          • lonleylibertarian

            Bucs do not need another 6 inning starter – which is what Kennedy and Cumpton are…

            Cost will be way more than the benefit…

            • freddylang

              Almost all starters in the majors average somewhere between 5.5-6.5 IP per start. So pretty much the entire league is 6 inning guys. I get it…it is nice to have a guy that can go 7 or 8 on a fairly consistent basis but those guys just aren’t out there.

              • lonleylibertarian

                Yes – but the Bucs have a guy who goes 7-8 a lot – Jeff Locke. Which makes the likely return to AAA when Cole comes of the DL even dumber…

                • marty34156

                  Jeff Locke ain’t going to AAA when Cole is back, Worley is going to the bullpen.

                • freddylang

                  I think Cole will eventually be a true horse but he is still being coddled like most top prospects under 25 get. Plus he has lacked consistency. I think Cole’s minor injury issues could be an advantage down the stretch…he should be fresh and have plenty left in the tank. Hopefully Locke can keep it up. He definitely has become a different pitcher than he was before. His control was never this good, not even in early 2013.

          • pilbobuggins

            Thanks for looking that up marty, saves me the effort. I really like kennedy and was bummed the bucs did not get him last year.

          • piraddict

            What are Cumpton’s statistics if you remove the one disasterous start in LA? Cumpton’s ERA drops to 3.61, same as Kennedy. Hurdle let Cumpton twist in the wind in the LA game. No way he let’s a Cole or Morton absorb 10 earned runs in three + innings. With them he’s on the mound after 5 runs taking the ball saying “Tonight wasn’t your night”. So don’t crucify Cumpton for essentially one bad outing.

            • piraddict

              Watching him pitch I would say Cumpton’s biggest deficiency is a lack of change of speeds. He is a sinker/slider guy w/o much differential in velocity. Interesting that the Pirates would teach Adrian Sampson the changeup but seem to have overlooked that with Cumpton.

              • marty34156

                Cumpton’s biggest problem is a lack of talent. He has an okay sinker, and nothing else. His off speed pitches are at best average. Cumpton will never be more than a number 5 pitcher.

              • marty34156

                Cumpton’s biggest problem is a lack of talent. He has an okay sinker, and nothing else. His off speed pitches are at best average. Cumpton will never be more than a number 5 pitcher.

          • freddylang

            Ian Kennedy has a 9.5 career WAR. Half of that came in one season. He is definitely better than Cumpton…but not extremely better. I would love to have Kennedy but not at the price of the system.

  • leadoff

    The Pirates are always looking, I think Kennedy would be a good get, but everything comes down to the price. Kennedy is a good pitcher, but how much better is he than what they already have when you factor in what the Padres are going to want, but before I give something of value up for him, I have to know what his record is against the NL.Central, especially the Brewers, Cards and Reds individually.

    • bucsws2014

      He got batted around once (5ER/6IP) vs. Reds and beat them (1ER/6IP) the other time. Had a 1ER/6IP vs MIL. Hasn’t faced Cards this year. Against other WC contenders, holds his own vs. LAD (last time 8 inning shutout, but AZ lost 1-0). Vs SF/WAS he’s 1-1 with a QS vs Nats. He’s gotten into 7th in 6/21 games. Right now he’s better than Liriano. You can argue whether or not he’s equal to Cumpton because right now Cumpton is better than Liriano as well.

      So the real question is whether or not he’s a better option than someone currently in the starting rotation. IMO, he is better than Liriano. But there are probably other options that are better as well with more control and less money.

      I’d be constantly checking in with the Mets. If Kennedy is a target, then so should be Dillon Gee, who’s going to have to fight for a spot next year as the Mets are loaded with SP for 2015. Unfortunately, Mets’ needs are similar to Bucs (SS/1b), although they also represent a team where Tabata might do very well. Not sure what kind of package would intrigue them. They’d be looking at targets like Jean Segura and Mark Trumbo as centerpieces.

      Anyway, if Cole comes back from his lat injury as well as Gee came back from his, we’re in good shape.

  • marty34156

    I’d do Hanson for Kennedy. Not a Mercer fan, but I don’t think Hanson sticks at SS and think Mercer can at least be serviceable for a few years until Jones gets here.

    • Lee Young

      you mean ‘IF’ JCJ gets here, right?

  • Lee Young

    I wonder what the price would be if we include Cumpton or Sadler in the deal (or both?).

    • piraddict

      Do you mean who would San Diego add in?

  • pilbobuggins

    What would be the problem of including worley in a deal to lower the prospect number. And just a funny thought, how about sending volquez back and saying here ya go san d we fixed him for

  • pilbobuggins

    I say worley only half in jest,let’s not forget sandiego still has to field a team and need something besides just i’ m thinking hanson,worley and a low c pitching prospect maybe a high c or low b.

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