Change of scenery best thing for Ian Kennedy?

May 16, 2013, 4:57 PM | Updated: 6:46 pm

There’s no denying Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Ian Kennedy has not been the same player he was in 2011.

Then the team’s ace, Kennedy posted a 21-4 record to go along with a 2.88 ERA and fourth-place finish in the Cy Young voting.

Since then, the right-hander has gone 17-15 with a 4.20 ERA, looking more like a number four starter than a number one.

Who is the real Ian Kennedy, and how much is he worth?

Over at MLBTradeRumors.com, the question of if the 28-year-old could benefit from a change of scenery.

Kennedy, 28, has a 4.88 ERA, 7.2 K/9, 3.7 BB/9, 1.14 HR/9, and 38.8% groundball rate in 55 1/3 innings for the Diamondbacks this year. Strikeouts are down and walks are way up, which is concerning. Earning $4.265MM this year as a first-time arbitration eligible player, Kennedy is at the top of the salary scale for his service class, a pace that might slow a bit with an off-year. He’s under team control through 2015, and since he is represented by the Boras Corporation, there’s a good chance he reaches free agency when eligible. He is a good candidate for a change of scenery, and if there’s one GM who might trade his Opening Day starter midseason while contending, it’s the Gunslinger.

Arizona’s rotation has a 3.68 ERA, sixth-best in the league even with Kennedy’s 4.88 ERA covering about 22% of their innings. The readiness of Triple-A pitchers Tyler Skaggs, Randall Delgado, and Zeke Spruill would have to be a factor in considering a midseason trade of Kennedy. None of them seem ready to fill Kennedy’s shoes, as an innings eater who should be able to post a sub-4.00 ERA from here on out if the walks come down. However, as a ready pointed out in the comments, Daniel Hudson should return from Tommy John surgery in July, which could provide the needed depth to trade Kennedy.

Indeed, the D-backs are still rather deep with arms in the farm system, and at some point may need to open up a spot in the rotation for someone like Skaggs, Delgado or even, down the road, Archie Bradley. And depending on Kennedy’s future salary demands, he may end up pricing himself out of the D-backs’ range.

Then again, unless he starts looking more like the pitcher he was in 2011 and not the pitcher he has been since, there may not be many willing to offer the type of big bucks that are usually given to the game’s better hurlers.

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Change of scenery best thing for Ian Kennedy?