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Royals sign Ian Kennedy to five-year, $70 million contract

The Royals will forfeit a draft pick to sign the right-hander.

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The Royals have signed right-handed starting pitcher Ian Kennedy to a five-year contract worth $70 million, according to Jon Heyman. Ken Rosenthal reports Kennedy can opt out of the contract after two years.

Kennedy is a 31-year old right-handed pitcher who has won 75 games in parts of nine Major Leagues seasons with the Yankees, Diamondbacks, and Padres. He was 9-15 with a 4.28 ERA and 4.51 FIP with 0.8 fWAR last season, but was a 3.5 fWAR pitcher the season before that. His best season came in 2011 when he won 21 games and was a 4.8 fWAR pitcher with a 2.88 ERA and 3.22 FIP.

Kennedy is a high-strikeout pitcher, getting 9.3 strikeouts-per-nine innings last season despite a fastball that averages just 91 mph. Kennedy throws a changeup and began throwing a knuckle-curveball last season with some regularity. He has a 38.1% flyball rate in his career, and could benefit greatly from playing in front of Lorenzo Cain, Alex Gordon, and Jarrod Dyson. Kennedy had a high home run rate last season of 1.66 per-nine-innings with 19 of the 31 home runs he gave up coming at Petco Park.

Kennedy has made 30 or more starts in each of his six full Major League seasons, but averaged just 5.6 innings per start last season. He joins a rotation that includes Edinson Volquez, Yordano Ventura, Kris Medlen, and either Danny Duffy or Chris Young. To sign Kennedy, the Royals will have to forfeit their first-round pick in the 2016 draft.