There are still good starting pitchers to be had in this free agency market, with the Kansas City Royals and Toronto Blue Jays willing to spend money to land these players. The Royals are more interested in Kennedy while the Blue Jays have an eye for Gallardo, but it won’t be too surprising to see teams switching interests.
The Blue Jays aren’t afraid of spending and with finally making the postseason in 2015, it feels as if they shouldn’t be shy of making another push to seize the momentum in a division that usually been so difficult getting out of. However, they already have $134 million committed to salaries next season, which means that any additional spending is going to have to go through some special ownership approval. Gallardo made $14 million last season for the Texas Rangers in a solid ninth season in the league for the one-time All-Star. But are the Blue Jays willing to push past $150 million, or offer Gallardo a long-term deal with around $50 million for three years?
The same question can be asked of the Royals, who set a record deal this offseason by re-signing Alex Gordon to their outfield and pretty much keeping the defense and offense that got this team to a couple of World Series back to back, winning it all in 2015. Starting pitching hasn’t been their strong suit and wasn’t their focus this offseason, but with Kennedy, spending the last two and a bit seasons with the San Diego Padres, they might make one more signing that hopefully solidifies their rotation and keeps them a step ahead of everyone in the AL Central.
The Royals are closer to Kennedy than the Blue Jays are to Gallardo, but one interesting note is that the Royals have been in contact with Gallardo as well, just in case one of the two negotiations collapse. Gallardo played in the American League for the first time last season and did pretty well, posting a 3.42 ERA, his lowest in a full season. However, his WHIP of 1.416 was the highest of his career, suggesting a few less than positive things.
Kennedy, who played for the New York Yankees before moving on to the Arizona Diamondbacks and since 2013 the San Diego Padres, had a 4.28 ERA in 2015 but his WHIP ran below the 1.300 for a second straight season. He’s not #1-#2 material, but Kennedy is a good option to have at the backend of the rotation, not to mention he could always erupt and have the kind of year he had in 2011, when he finished with a 2.88 ERA and 1.086 WHIP. He is striking out more players than before, averaging 9.3 per nine innings over the last two seasons.
Besides Cy Young type of players like Zack Greinke, teams don’t seem too eager to spend a whole lot of money at this stage on starting pitchers. Recent seasons have shown that a strong bullpen is a lot more important to the success in the playoffs. For guys like Kennedy and Gallardo, it means the contracts they could have gotten a year or two ago or maybe earlier in the offseason simply aren’t there to be had anymore.