Dodgers second baseman Howie Kendrick is not a happy camper in Los Angeles. Fresh off an appearance in the National League Championship Series, Kendrick is not pleased with a diminished role in Los Angeles and would like to be traded, according to reporter Jon Heyman. One potential landing spot, according to Heyman, could be Kansas City.
Now we don’t know if this is rampant speculation on Heyman’s part, or informed speculation. But Kendrick does make some sense. The Royals had the second-worst OPS at second base in the American League last year, Kendrick’s primary position. They did have rookie Whit Merrifield come on last year, but having Kendrick could allow Merrifield to serve more of a utility role, playing all over the field.
Kendrick himself could serve a utility role, having played first base, second base, third base, and outfield last season. He could also be the table-setting lead-off hitter the Royals have needed the last few seasons. Kendrick hit .255/.326/.366 with 8 HR 40 RBI in 543 plate appearances last year. While that was his lowest on-base percentage since 2012, his 9.2% walk rate was better than anyone on the Royals except Alex Gordon. He was a 0.5 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) player last season, according to Baseball Reference, but was a 5.3 WAR Player as recently as 2014.
The biggest impediment to a trade to Kansas City is, of course, money. Kendrick is owed $10 million next year, the last year of his deal. But half of that money is deferred to 2018 and 2019, making the financial obligation just $5 million next year, which could be feasible in the Royals’ budget. The trade return should not be expected to be a top prospect, and Kendrick would not require a long-term commitment. The right-handed hitter will turn 34 next July. Heyman mentions the Phillies and Angels as other potential suitors.
Dayton Moore mentioned the need to be “creative” this off-season to make the numbers work. A deal for a veteran like Kendrick may be the kind of creative deal the Royals will need to make to improve the team without breaking the bank.
Update: Kendrick has been deal to Philadelphia.
Phillies acquire Howie Kendrick from Dodgers for Darin Ruf and Darnell Sweeney.— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) November 11, 2016