The Angels double play duo of Howie Kendrick and Erick Aybar are headed into their final year of arbitration. With free agency looming after the 2012 season, GM Jerry Dipoto will have to decide if the second baseman and short stop are worth multi-year deals. Let’s roll the general manager speak from this LA Times article…
“At this point, it’s something we’ve begun to explore and will continue to explore,” Dipoto said. “There is no timetable, but certainly, it’s something we’re interested in pursuing.”
Kendrick, 28, hit a career high 18 home runs and a .285/.338/.464 line on his way to a 5.8 fWAR (Fangraphs wins above replacement) in 2011. He was great at second base but he also logged over 100 innings at first base and left field. While Kendrick might not ever be the batting champion he was projected to be, he is still quite valuable. ZiPS has Kendrick pegged for 15 home runs and a .275/.320/.431 line in 2012.
Mike DiGiovanna, LA Times, thinks Kendrick could be in line for a 4-year, $34 million deal. If Dipoto can get that deal, the Angels would have to extend the second baseman. The Angels best non-Trout prospect is Jean Segura who profiles best at second. Segura lost most of his 2011 Double-A season to injury but did get some time in at short stop. Middle infield help could be on the way but I wouldn’t let that stand in the way of extending Kendrick.
Aybar, almost 28, is also coming off of his best year in 2011. With 10 home runs, Aybar doubled his previous high and his .279/.322/.421 line helped him to a 4.0 fWAR. Aybar passes the eye test at short stop even if the advanced metrics can’t get a good grip on him. ZiPS is projecting eight home runs, 24 stolen bases and a .275/.320/.392 line in 2012.
DiGiovanna thinks a similar 4-year, $30 million deal would get Aybar signed. I’m more bullish on Kendrick than Aybar but I’d extend the short stop as well. Even if Segura can play short, I doubt the Angels would have a hard time trading a switch-hitting SS.
If Dipoto can extend the pair for contracts around 4/$30, I think he should do it sooner than later. With similar 2012s to their 2011s, Kendrick and Aybar would be better served testing the market.