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Royals have "strong interest" in pitcher Ian Kennedy

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Dayton Moore can now turn his focus to starting pitching.

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

With Alex Gordon now in the fold, the Royals can turn their attention to addressing the starting pitching staff. Royals starters finished with the fourth-worst ERA and FIP in the American League last year and lose free agent Johnny Cueto. The Royals have been linked to a number of starting pitchers this winter, but Jon Heyman reports the Royals have "strong interest" in Padres free agent pitcher Ian Kennedy and are "expected to make a push" now that Gordon is signed.

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 can still miss bats, striking out 9.3 hitters-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, which could play well in Kansas City.

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. Kennedy can expect a two or three-year contract worth around $10-13 million per season. If the Royals sign Kennedy, they would have to forfeit their first round pick, as he was made a Qualifying Offer.

The Royals have also been reported to have interest in free agent pitchers like Wei Yin Chen and Yovani Gallardo.