The Boston Red Sox made a minor move on Wednesday, adding some pitching depth to their starting rotation before the start of spring training. The team announced they’ve signed right-handed starter Kyle Kendrick to a minor league deal, that includes an invite to major league spring training.
According to Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald, Kendrick will have a $1 million base salary if he does find a way to make the major league club. Included in the deal, are multiple opt-out dates for the veteran pitcher, which will be interesting to follow once spring training begins.
Even though Boston’s starting rotation is flooded with different options at the moment, adding depth is essential for the organization. Over the past few seasons, the Red Sox have become notorious for needing pitching depth to overcome different issues on the mound.
Kyle Kendrick has never been an arm that has been held at a high regard by front offices or different scouts, but he has stuck around in professional baseball thanks to his ability to absorb innings at a somewhat mediocre rate. The 2003 draftee spent 2007-2014 as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies major league pitching staff, where he consistently worked out of the starting rotation. Over the years, Kendrick would accumulate over 1,138 innings of work, which featured low strikeout and walk rates. Despite not having dominant stuff, Kyle was still able to post a 4.32 ERA over a rather long stretch. He had an ability to use his head and feel for pitching to beat hitters, instead of blowing them away with some overwhelming pitch.
Kyle's track record led to him signing a one-year deal with the Colorado Rockies in 2015. Thanks to a series of injuries and other implications, Kendrick ended up starting opening day and posting the worst season of his career. In 27 starts, he posted a 6.32 ERA and registered a WHIP of 1.52. He would also allow 100 runs and 33 home runs, which were the worst marks for those categories during the 2015 MLB season. This collection of struggles led to Kendrick heading back to the minors in 2016, after other teams were uninterested in offering him a major league roster spot.
The Los Angeles Angels would end up storing Kendrick down in Triple-A this past season, after the Atlanta Braves cut him in spring training. Across 16 games and 15 starts, he would post a lackluster 4.72 ERA, but his K/9, HRA, and WHIP all improved from the season before. Many of the issues that plagued Kendrick in 2015, were beginning to slowly be improved on. Leaving Coors Field seemed to do a lot of good for his confidence and overall approach on the mound. It looked like baseball was close to getting back on track for the righty. If these positive signs didn't show up at the end of 2016, it would have been tough to imagine the Red Sox taking a flier on Kendrick based off his stat page alone.
If Kendrick does have a nice spring with the Red Sox, it won’t be surprising to see him opt out of this deal and join another team before opening day. Spring training seems to cause many borderline arms to move around, as different injuries pop up around the league and teams get desperate for replacements. But, if Kendrick stays, he may have an opportunity to eat some innings and make a spot start when the Red Sox pitching staff is in a pinch. At the very least, it would give Kendrick a way to ease back into major league baseball and possibly audition for a larger role with another team in 2018.null