Should Ian Kennedy Get a Qualifying Offer?


With yet another disappointing season drawing to a close the Padres are now looking towards the future. They have two high profile players whose contracts expire at the end of the season and they need to decide if they want to extend a qualifying offer to them. The qualifying offer is a one year contract which this year is projected to be worth $15.7-$16 million. If the player rejects the offer they become a free agent, but if the player signs with a different team, the team that signs that player loses their highest unprotected, non-sandwich round draft pick, and the team that lost that player would receive a draft pick in between the first and second rounds of the draft.

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The Padres have one easy decision and one difficult one. The easy one is Justin Upton. Upton would never take the QO, because the draft pick compensation won’t negatively impact his value to the point where he’d be making less than the QO for any season in his next contract. The tough choice is Ian Kennedy. Without the compensation Kennedy could get something between what Jake Peavy and Brandon McCarthy got last year which would be around 3 years and $36 million. With the new TV deals growing payrolls and the demand with pitching that’s probably a pretty conservative estimate, but if Kennedy has a draft pick attached to him he might struggle to find a deal worth that much. Kennedy is worth that amount of money, but is Kennedy worth losing a first round pick? Maybe not.

But why would that be the Padres problem? While no player has ever accepted the qualifying offer, non-superstars like Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales found themselves out of work months into the season because no team felt they were worth the draft pick. If Kennedy’s agent feels he’s destined for a similar fate he may urge him to take the offer. While keeping Kennedy isn’t out of the question, keeping him at the value of the QO is less than ideal. There’s a lot of holes to fill on the roster and paying a guy who is the fourth starter on this team at best makes it difficult for those holes to be filled. That could be money that could go to keeping Justin Upton, a shortstop or improving the bullpen. All of that is worth much more than a fourth starter.

All in all, I think it’s too risky to extend a QO to Kennedy. While I think he’s more likely to decline it than accept it, the chance that he could mess up the entire payroll next year is good enough to where it isn’t worthwhile. An extra draft pick would be nice to have, but it’s not a desperate need. The risk far exceeds the reward, so the Padres shouldn’t do it.

Next: How 2015 Could Have Gone

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