If Kyle Kendrick keeps this up, he'll get paid

If Kyle Kendrick keeps this up, he'll get paid
May 6, 2014, 11:00 am
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Kyle Kendrick has 40 quality starts in 76 tries since 2011, and has been on the DL just once in his eight-year career. (USA Today Images)

COMPARABLE RECENT CONTRACTS

Stats from 2011-13

Kyle Kendrick (29): 4.05 ERA, 5.6 K/9, 2.5 BB/9 -- Contract unknown

Scott Feldman (31): 4.32 ERA, 6.7 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 -- 3 years, $30 million

Jason Vargas (31): 4.04 ERA, 6.0 K/9, 2.5 BB/9 -- 4 years, $32 million

Ricky Nolasco (31): 4.29 ERA, 6.6 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 -- 4 years, $49 million

Phil Hughes (28): 4.83 ERA, 7.3 K/9, 2.5 BB/9 -- 3 years, $24 million

Kyle Kendrick isn't just pitching for the Phillies these days. He's also pitching for a contract.

Kendrick, who fell to 0-3 Monday despite registering another quality start, is a free agent after the season.

It was a bit of a surprise to see the Phillies commit $7.675 million to him in his final year of arbitration eligibility, but if Kendrick continues to pitch like he has in his first six starts, he'll likely find a multi-year deal with an average annual value in that range.

Kendrick has a 3.58 ERA in 37 2/3 innings this season, a solid mark for a No. 4 or No. 5 starter. He's allowed three runs or fewer in five of his six starts and has gone seven innings three times.

He also has durability on his side. Kendrick has made 30 or more starts in three different years despite being shifted from the rotation to the bullpen and has been on the disabled list just once in his eight-year career.

Kendrick will not be at the top of the free-agent pitching market this winter. It's shaping up to be a terrific class of starting pitchers with Max Scherzer, Jon Lester, James Shields and Justin Masterson as the headliners.

Kendrick won't even be in the second tier of free-agent SPs that will include Jake Peavy, Hiroki Kuroda, Hisashi Iwakuma and Jorge De La Rosa.

But it looks as though KK will be in the third group, alongside pitchers like Jason Hammel, Paul Maholm, Brandon McCarthy, Wandy Rodriguez, Carlos Villanueva and Ryan Vogelsong.

As you can see, there will be a lot of pitching depth available this winter. That could either hurt Kendrick's chances of landing a nice payday or help them.

Worst-case scenario for Kendrick
He falters in the second half like he did in 2013, putting a bad taste in the mouths of his potential suitors.

Another potential blow to Kendrick's wallet would be if teams quickly snatch up pitchers from that third tier. If the Hammels and Maholms and Vogelsongs sign before Kendrick, KK might be forced to take a one-year deal.

Best-case scenario for Kendrick
Some team is enamored by his durability and flexibility to start and relieve, and acts fast in signing him to a multi-year contract.

Comparable contracts
Kendrick must have liked what he saw this past winter.

• Scott Feldman, who has a 4.54 career ERA and worse strikeout and walk numbers to Kendrick, signed a three-year, $30 million contract with the Astros. Feldman is two years older than Kendrick.

• Jason Vargas, also two years older than Kendrick, signed a four-year, $32 million deal with the Royals. Vargas' career ERA is 4.26.

• Ricky Nolasco, who has a higher career ERA than Kendrick but better strikeout and walk numbers, acted fast in signing a four-year, $49 million contract that the Twins must have regretted as the offseason went on and Matt Garza and Ubaldo Jimenez signed similar deals and Ervin Santana ended up with a one-year pact.

• Phil Hughes, who has been worse and less consistent than Kendrick, signed in Minnesota for three years and $24 million.

• Look, even Mike Pelfrey, who has a 4.99 ERA since 2011, signed a two-year deal worth $11 million.

Kendrick will have options this winter. The Phillies like him; they've always liked him. And they don't have a wealth of starting pitching after Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. A.J. Burnett has a mutual option for next season but that situation will play itself out based on Burnett's health, the Phillies' competitiveness and his desire to pitch at age 38.

So you may see a push this season by the Phils to extend Kendrick.

But if you're Kendrick, any in-season offer would need to be enticing. If the market for a No. 4 starter is three or four years for at least $7 million annually, he's going to get paid by somebody.

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