This week’s trade to Arizona might have been the best thing for Ian Kennedy. After Brandon Webb, Dan Haren and Edwin Jackson, the Diamondbacks’ rotation seems fairly wide open. Kennedy could very well go into spring training as a favorite to open the season in the big leagues. With the Yankees, he would have been a favorite to once again headline Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s rotation, waiting for an injury or unexpected move to open a door to New York.
Even so, Kennedy is only three years into his professional career, and he said leaving the Yankees isn’t easy. This is the first winter he would have been Rule 5 eligible had he not been added to the 40-man so early in his career. He’s about to turn 25 and his minor league numbers are spectacular. There was still plenty of time to establish himself in New York.
“I would describe it as bittersweet,” Kennedy said in an email.
Good things were happening for Kennedy. His curveball was improving — he was doing a better job throwing it for strikes, not using it strictly as a swing-and-miss pitch — and his fastball/changeup command was as good as ever when he came back from aneurysm surgery to make one playoff start for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In the Arizona Fall League, he began throwing a two-seam fastball for the first time, and he said he was happy with its development. He pitched in and out of trouble in his one big league appearance.
Then came Tuesday.
“That day started out confusing because I had no idea what was going on,” Kennedy said. “I had no idea the Winter Meetings were going on. I found out when one of my friends texted me, ‘congrats on the trade.’ I then turned on the tv and computer to see what was going on. It wasn’t until Wednesday that I got a call from Cash that confirmed the trade.”
Two bad months in the big leagues — as a 23 year old with one year of professional experience — is hardly enough to judge Kennedy as a pitcher. With Arizona, he should get a long look in spring training and a second chance to prove himself in the big leagues. Best of luck, Ian.