If the Padres are going to be competitive in 2016, there is one thing they absolutely need to do: re-sign Ian Kennedy.
Why him? And why now, especially after a very mediocre season where he went 9-15 with a 4.28 ERA?
Because he is a dependable starting pitcher that you know you can depend on to give you at least 30 starts a year. Such a commodity does not exactly grow on trees in baseball.
Kennedy, 31, was also hampered by a number of things: a disappointing offense, the worst defense behind him in baseball—which definitely adds pressure to pitchers, as the rest of the rotation also regressed—and a very slow start. But even in spite all of this, Kennedy was very solid in the middle months, posting a 2.63 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP from June-August.
Other teams probably know this. But they also know that if they sign Kennedy, then they will have to forfeit their first-round draft pick, which will go to San Diego. So they have to decide: is it worth it to give up our top pick for a number three starting pitcher?
Kansas City seems to think so, as they have recently expressed interest. But it’s for that reason that San Diego should as well.
There is another reason: general manager A.J. Prefer has made it clear he would like to trade James Shields, and he could be talked into moving Tyson Ross if the price is right. But even if he were to just trade Shields (let alone Ross), who is going to be their starting rotation? It would be Ross (assuming he’s still around), Andrew Cashner (and don’t forget, Preller might try to move him, too), rookie Colin Rea, and a choice of Odrisamer Despaigne (-1.3 WAR), Robbie Erlin, and Brandon Morrow if he’s healthy.
That does not exactly inspire a lot of confidence.
So if they lose Kennedy and either Shields or Ross (or both), they will have a depleted starting rotation, and they will almost certainly be ticketed for a 90-plus loss season.
Sign. Ian. Kennedy. Now.