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The Rockies wouldn't actually bring Kyle Kendrick back next year... right?

The Rockies had all the Kyle Kendrick they could handle — and then some — in 2015. But what if he fits in the 2016 starting rotation, too?

Don't laugh... Kyle Kendrick might fit with the 2016 Rockies.
Don't laugh... Kyle Kendrick might fit with the 2016 Rockies.
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Oh, I can't wait to see the Facebook comments on this post. Years from now, mentioning Kyle Kendrick to a Colorado Rockies fan will be akin to mentioning anybody on this list. Even teasing Kendrick as a 2016 option in our ongoing stream of potential hot stove free agent targets is heresy. I can feel your wrath through the screen.

And yet here we are!

I know Kendrick was particularly awful in 2015. I know Rockies fans are fed up with him, and maybe even more fed up with what he represents in terms of the quality of outsider targeted by the front office. But there's a surprisingly simple—and truth be told, strong—case to re-sign Kyle Kendrick for the 2016 season. Bear with me.

Scouting Kyle Kendrick

He's bad.

The case for the Rockies to pursue Kyle Kendrick

Here's the reality we all know: the Rockies will be bad in 2016. If they do the things they probably should do, like trade Carlos Gonzalez this winter, and eventually move others like Charlie Blackmon, Jorge De La Rosa, Boone Logan, Nick Hundley, and maybe more, the team is going to get worse as the season wears on. That's fine! With a deeper farm system than at maybe any other time in the franchise's history and a bright future ahead, I can watch the Rox take it on the chin next summer.

And that's where Kyle Kendrick comes in, as the veteran innings eater that we (um, kind of) saw in 2015. If the Rockies are going to be bad anyways, what's the point of pursuing strong free agent starting pitchers that will command multi-year deals? Why spend even a couple more million than you have to on pitchers with a better track record than Kendrick? If you know you aren't going to win now, anyways, why not go for the cheap option if wins and losses aren't the focus as the rebuild continues?

Kendrick was particularly atrocious in 2015, but that may have been an outlier even for him; pessimists aside, there's a higher-than-zero chance Kendrick will do better in 2016. It can't get much worse, right? Relative to the team's expectations in 2016, all the Rockies are asking of him is to take the ball every fifth day while prospects develop and trades percolate, since 2017 and beyond ought to be the only thing on the franchise's mind, anyways.

Discovering relatively low demand for his services before 2015, Kendrick probably won't find too many suitors for next season, either, and he's sure to take a pay cut from the $5.5 million he made last year. (Although even that's still a relative bargain when you consider some of the price tags we'll see this winter on uninspiring veteran hurlers.)

Knowing that, and putting the Rockies' 2016 outlook into its proper context, I'd be very happy if Kendrick started 30 games, made a couple million dollars, and then moved along a year from now as the Rockies transition to what should be a fun, exciting, and talented young team. Hopefully, over his 30 hypothetical starts in 2016, Kendrick would do slightly better than 2015, though even that is ultimately irrelevant for a team that ought not look at the standings the entire season, anyways.

I know it's sacrilegious to even consider bringing him back to Denver next year, but Kyle Kendrick is going to come cheap, he's not going to field too many offers to drive competition on the free agent market, and he's relatively consistently been able to take the ball every fifth day throughout his career. If he can eat those innings we all keep hearing about and kick the can down the road for a team still at least a year away from having legitimate expectations, I wouldn't hate it.

The case against Kyle Kendrick

Well, he's not a good player.

There's more to it than that, though, and it has nothing to do with Kendrick; rather, I think a case against Kendrick is really a case against any pitcher of Kendrick's (relative) talent and context. To me, it's a question of whether you believe the Rockies will do better to forget 2016 and stock up young players and prospects while playing for the future, or if it's more important for the Rockies to attract a legitimate starting pitcher this winter in preparation for (perhaps sooner) future contention.

Based on Jeff Bridich's recent comments, it appears as though the Rockies might do the latter and seek out a bona fide starting pitcher, even if it means losing a high draft pick to make the acquisition. That's surprising to me—I'm of the trade everybody, get bad, and acquire all the prospects! school of thought—but if that's the angle the Rockies take as they try to jump the gun on the rebuild a little quicker than I'd expect, Kendrick would not fit the plan.

There's another wild card to consider specifically with Kendrick: fan reaction. Not that the Rockies' front office ought to care about it, anyways—fans will complain regardless of what they do—but Kendrick's 2015 was so bad, that bringing him back may well nearly incite a riot among casual and die hard fans alike. I'm not big on the "optics" of front office moves, to use a word perhaps better fit for politics, but there are cases in which general managers might do well to consider potential fan backlash. Kendrick might just be one of those cases.

Kyle Kendrick's fit with the Rockies

I honestly can't wait to read the comments on this one. Besides the knee-jerk reactions (believe me guys, I know, he sucks), if it's a foregone conclusion the Rockies are going to be bad in 2016 anyways, what's the harm in bringing Kendrick back to be part of that dumpster fire while Jon Gray, Jeff Hoffman, and others continue their development? In other words, is there a (more than psychological) difference between, say, 90 losses and 100? If the NL West cellar is a foregone conclusion, why not fill out the big league roster with known entities like Kendrick, however uninspiring they may be, while focusing the real attention on the organization's future?

If you're a basement dweller, anyways, and you have a plan for the future to get out of the basement the right way—through strong drafts and good player development—why jump the gun on that by acquiring higher quality talent before you're ready to compete? Continue to blow it all up in 2016, let Kyle Kendrick pitch for relative pennies on a team nobody expects to succeed, and if he pleasantly surprises you come July, well, trade him for a random minor leaguer!

The fact is, the Rockies would do well to bring in some kind of veteran starting pitcher. If they believe they can go get a legitimate starter on a multi-year deal, even if it means losing a draft pick (and Jeff Bridich has alluded to this), then that's one route to take. If, on the other hand, it's more important for the Rockies to trust the rebuild path and prepare to be bad in 2016 as young players prospects develop, Kendrick may fit.

I understand all the anger that will come over the hypothetical suggestion that the Rockies might be a landing spot for Kendrick. But Jorge De La Rosa will be traded in the next eight months. Tyler Chatwood is a total wild card. Jordan Lyles must prove he can pitch a full season without bad injury luck. Chad Bettis needs to show 2015 wasn't a fluke, Tyler Matzek and Eddie Butler are complete unknowns (for very different reasons), Jon Gray will still go through growing pains in 2016, and for goodness' sake, Chris Rusin, Yohan Flande, David Hale and Christian Bergman combined to start 48 games last season.

The Rockies aren't exactly breaking down the doors with big league-ready pitching depth. If the 2016 plan is to circle the drain as the club waits for a more realistic period of contention, Kyle Kendrick might just be the kind of cheap, temporary option to help the Rockies keep their eyes on the actual (post-2016) prize.