It’s official: Ian Kennedy is no longer a Padre. He just signed a five-year, $70 million deal to join the defending World Champion Kansas City Royals.
Short term, this is very bad news for the Padres, as they have lost a reliable (though not necessarily stellar) arm. Since they also have James Shields on the trading block, and he could be gone some time in 2016, this looks to be a long season.
Long term, this could be a good thing: they now have five of the top 100 picks in the upcoming June draft. Once Justin Upton signs somewhere else, that number will go up to six.
As I’ve been saying, this looks like a rebuild without actually calling it that; if it was, fans would be apoplectic. Their rotation for 2016 figures to be Shields, Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner, and some combination of Brandon Morrow (assuming he’s healthy), Robbie Erlin, Drew Pomeranz, and Brandon Maurer–the latter two might be better suited for the bullpen, but at least Maurer has been promised a shot at the starting five. They could also sign, say, Doug Fister, Yovani Gallardo, Aaron Harang, Mat Latos or some other free agent, or make a trade.
Bottom Line: With the loss of Kennedy, the starting rotation needs an upgrade; you can live with one of the in-house options in your starting rotation, but you can’t live with two, especially when Maurer is needed more in the bullpen.
Now, here’s the good news: starting with the return on the Craig Kimbrel trade, and now with a promising draft ahead in June, the Padres are well on their way to having a well-stocked farm system, and being contenders in 3-4 years.
That said, it’s going to get worse before it gets better.