Reliever Ian Kennedy elected minor league free agency after going unclaimed on outright waivers, according to the transaction tracker at MLB.com. The Rangers had designated the right-hander for assignment last week.
Kennedy heads back to the open market in search of a new opportunity after a brief second stint in Texas. The 17-year MLB veteran had had some success with the Rangers during the first half of 2021 leading up to a deadline trade that sent him to Philadelphia. He returned over the winter on a minor league pact and broke camp with the club but only made 11 appearances in his second stint.
The 38-year-old surrendered ten runs in as many innings. He struck out 13 out of 46 hitters (an impressive 28.3% rate) while issuing just three walks. He earned swinging strikes on a massive 16.3% of his offerings, which would easily be the best mark of his career if he could sustain it. Opponents made a lot of quality contact when they did get the ball in play, though, contributing to Texas’ decision to move on. Kennedy also struggled with hard contact last year in Arizona, leading to a 5.36 ERA across 50 1/3 frames.
While the past season-plus has been a struggle, Kennedy has been a quality late-game reliever at times. He saved 30 games with a 3.41 ERA for the Royals back in 2019 and picked up 26 more saves while allowing 3.20 earned runs per nine during the ’21 campaign divided between Texas and the Phillies. Between that track record and this year’s small sample swinging strike numbers, Kennedy should be able to at least find minor league interest elsewhere.