Kansas City Royals: Ten Worst Contracts in Team History

Ian Kennedy #31 of the Kansas City Royals (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
Ian Kennedy #31 of the Kansas City Royals (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images) /
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Kansas City Royals
Ian Kennedy #31 of the Kansas City Royals (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

Fourth Worst Contract Ever – Ian Kennedy (Royals pitcher from 2016-2020)

Give the Royals credit here. They were trying to stay competitive and shore up the weaknesses after the team won the World Series in 2015. Starting pitching had been an issue for them in 2015, so they went out and got an innings eater in Ian Kennedy, inking him to a five-year deal worth $70 million.

As you can see from the title of the article, the contract didn’t work out the way the Royals had hoped. Kennedy was decent in his first year of the deal, starting 33 games, pitching 195.2 innings, and ending that season with a 3.68 ERA. If the Royals could have gotten that kind of performance from Kennedy the next few years, the contract would still have been looked at as a disappointment, but nowhere near as bad as it really was.

In 2017, Kennedy struggled big time and finished the year with an ERA of 5.38. The redeeming factor there was that he started 30 games and threw 154 innings. The next year wasn’t much better, as Kennedy’s ERA was a 4.66, but he tossed just 119.2 innings through 22 starts.

The Royals decided they had seen enough by that point and moved Kennedy to the bullpen for the 2019 season. It was there where Kennedy began to finally thrive as a member of the Royals, as he settled into the closer role and locked down 30 saves that season and had an ERA of 3.41 through his 63 appearances.

Not trading Kennedy when they had any interest for him was a huge mistake, but as the Royals so often do, they held onto their closer, hoping he’d be able to replicate his performance the next season. He didn’t come anywhere close to putting on an encore performance in 2020, pitching just 14 innings and finishing the shortened season with a 9.00 ERA.

The Royals wanted to stay competitive after they won the World Series in 2015 and tried to do what they could by bringing in Ian Kennedy to serve as a No. 2 starter in their rotation. Unfortunately it didn’t work out and now this contract is the fourth worst in franchise history. Kennedy was mostly bad, but he did have a few redeeming seasons, so that’s why he’s not higher on the list.