The Jon Lester negotiations have received all the attention, but even if the Red Sox manage to bring him back to Boston, they still need to bring in a second quality starting pitcher. Ian Kennedy could end up being that guy, as the Red Sox and Padres are discussing a swap of Yoenis Cespedes for Kennedy with the Padres, according to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal. The Red Sox aren't necessarily pushing hard for a deal just yet, though,as, per Rosenthal, they believe they can get a better pitcher than Kennedy for Cespedes.
Just in case Kennedy ends up being the top arm they can bring in for Cespedes, though, let's give you some background on why that isn't necessarily a negative. Kennedy's 2014 ERA+ was just 92, but that's a bit misleading. He struck out 9.3 batters per nine, punched out three times as many batters as he walked, and posted a 3.21 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching). While FIP certainly isn't the be-all pitching statistic, it's probably accurate in Kennedy's case, as his batting average on balls in play was an inflated .320. That's high to begin with, but for someone who pitched about half of their games at pitcher-friendly -- and BABIP-killing -- Petco Park, it's absurd. Kennedy's career BABIP, even with 2014 involved, is a much more normal .289. He might lose a couple of whiffs coming to the AL East from the NL West, but the BABIP is likely to drop even with Fenway Park as his home.
Kennedy has averaged 201 innings per year since 2010, posted a 115 ERA+ from 2010 through 2012 before a down 2013, and would arguably be Boston's best pitcher were he to join them this very second. He's a free agent at season's end, much like Cespedes, which is why the Padres wouldn't mind giving him up in order to bring some much-needed offense to their lineup. It's true that the Red Sox might be able to find someone better than Ian Kennedy as a Cespedes return, but if not, Kennedy is more than a consolation prize.
With that being said, I'm 100 percent in agreement with the Sox that they should keep shopping Cespedes to see if anyone will give up a better arm. It's only Sunday, and the winter meetings haven't even begun yet. Another day or two of conversations with other teams is a solid plan.