The Kansas City Royals are hoping to package starting pitcher Ian Kennedy in any potential trade for closer Wade Davis, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.
Sources: Royals trying to package Ian Kennedy in a potential Wade Davis deal. Dodgers a strong match. Covet Davis and can take on Kennedy $.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 28, 2016
Davis trade rumors have been swirling over the past few days after the New York Yankees extracted a huge haul of prospects from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for closer Aroldis Chapman. As Passan mentions, the Los Angeles Dodgers have interest in Davis, while the Royals also engaged in talks with the Washington Nationals earlier this week.
Kansas City currently sits at 49-51, 8.5 games out of first place in the AL Central and 6.5 games back in the Wild Card standings, and faces an uphill battle to the postseason with so many teams in front of it. While the Royals aren’t completely out of the playoff race and aren’t expected to rebuild at the 2016 deadline, trading Davis could be smart given the current market and price tag on elite bullpen pieces.
Davis has been one of the most dominant relievers in the game since converting to the bullpen in 2014, including posting an 0.94 ERA (2.29 FIP) with 10.43 strikeouts per nine innings last year according to FanGraphs.com. As Davis is under contract for just $10 million next year, he has some extra value over a rental like Chapman.
There are concerns about Davis’ diminshed strikeout numbers and inflated walk rate, but he still owns a 1.60 ERA (2.76 FIP) this year and has a ton of trade value. The Yankees were able to get impact prospect Gleyber Torres plus some other nice pieces in the Chapman deal, and the Royals should have their sights set even higher if Davis is indeed traded.
Kansas City initially asked for top Washington prospect Lucas Giolito for Davis, a move the Nationals wisely declined. As no team may be willing to part with the top prospect the Royals want, they are now trying to get a team to take on the four years and $62.5 million remaining on Kennedy’s contract after this season.
Following two decent years with the San Diego Padres, Kennedy has struggled this year to the tune of a 4.41 ERA (5.34 FIP) in 20 stats according to FanGraphs.com. Home runs have been a problem in particular, as Kennedy has allowed a league-leading 26 long balls.
Kennedy could still eat some innings for a team as a No. 5 starter or mop up guy, and isn’t owed a huge sum of money based on the insane cost of starting pitching in recent years. However, a lower budget team like the Royals can’t afford to spend that much on a player who is just above replacement level. The team is also rumored to be working on extensions for Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain, and would need the money from Kennedy’s contract to lock up both players long-term.
While adding in Kennedy may lower Davis’ value, it makes sense for the Royals from a roster construction standpoint. Kansas City can still get some great young players in a Davis deal who may be able to help as soon as 2017, and having more money will allow the club to re-tool rather than blow things up, as it could then lock down some key position players.
Like the Yankees, the Royals should take advantage of the seller’s market and move their elite reliever, even when they aren’t completely out of the race. Given how volatile relievers can be from year to year, potentially acquiring an impact position player while losing Kennedy’s contract would be well worth it, even if the Royals become a little worse for the rest of the year and 2017.
Los Angeles makes the most sense, as it desperately needs relief help in front of Kenley Jansen and could even use Kennedy as an injury replacement in the rotation. The San Francisco Giants or Texas Rangers could also take a look, although they might have a little more trouble taking on Kennedy’s contract.
[Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images]