According to Bill Brink, the Pittsburgh Pirates have interest in right-handed pitcher Kyle Kendrick. The 31-year-old pitched for the Colorado Rockies last year, posting a 6.32 ERA in 142.1 innings over 27 starts. He led the National League in both earned runs allowed and home runs. Kendrick has pitched in hitter’s parks his entire career, spending his first eight seasons with the Phillies. He has a career 4.63 ERA, with 702 strikeouts and a 1.38 WHIP in 1281 innings. Despite the home park disadvantage, his career ERA has been 4.71 at home and 4.55 on the road.
Kendrick has been durable during his career, making 30 or more starts in four of his seven full seasons. Two of the seasons he didn’t reach that mark, he pitched out of the bullpen for part of the year, and last year he fell three starts short. Kendrick has never had a FIP lower than 4.02, except when he threw just 26.1 innings during the 2009 season, spending most of that year in AAA. More on this shortly.
Pirates have expressed interest in free-agent righty Kyle Kendrick, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.
— Bill Brink (@Bill_Brink2) December 8, 2015
UPDATE 2:28 PM: Analysis from Tim Williams…
The other reclamation projects have made sense, as you could point to a year where they pitched like a number three starter or better, and hope to get them back to that point. Technically, Kendrick would be a reclamation project, but he’s more along the lines of a Vance Worley or Clayton Richard project, where you hope to add back of the rotation depth, rather than finding the next surprise middle to top of the rotation starter. If Ray Searage could do that with Kendrick, then maybe the “have pitchers pay the Pirates to play in Pittsburgh” idea would have to become a reality.
Kendrick has had some decent groundball rates in his career, but has reduced the usage of his sinker the last two years, and saw that ground ball rate drop to well below average in 2015. He’s never really posted dominant strikeout numbers, but also doesn’t have poor control. At best, he’s a strong number four starter, and at worst he’s a guy who should be used as depth out of Triple-A.
There are scenarios where Kendrick would make sense for the Pirates. The most unlikely scenario would be if he was willing to accept a minor league deal and work on getting back on track in Triple-A. This seems unlikely due to his name value, but it also seems unlikely to work for the Pirates because they no longer have Jim Benedict available to work with guys like this in extended Spring Training in April. The other scenario would be if they traded Charlie Morton or Jeff Locke, they could bring Kendrick in as a replacement, since they would need more than one starter.
At this point, I don’t really question the pitching moves the Pirates make, but Kendrick isn’t an appealing option on the surface.