What a strange season it was for Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick. In 2013, Kendrick was on his way to his best and most consistent season in the big leagues. Then the Florida-native who signed a 4-year extension for $33.5 million with the Angels in 2012, hit the disabled list with a sprained knee. Then the Angels made a move to acquire Grant Green, a top prospect in the Oakland A’s system. As a result, Kendrick became a name heavily mentioned as a player on the hot stove come the trade deadline. And as the World Series wraps up, rumors of Kendrick as a likely trade candidate continue to swirl.
It’s not that the Los Angeles Angels are particularly keen on trading Kendrick. Despite missing time to injury, Kendrick posted the second highest OPS+ of his career while exhibiting solid defense resulting in another 3 WAR season (or just under 3 according to Fangraphs). In 2013, he posted the 6th highest wOBA amongst second basemen with 500 PAs or more. Believe it or not, Kendrick was arguably a top-5 second baseman in 2013. And he’s still very much in his prime (he’ll be 30 to start the 2014 season).
So despite a solid year from Kendrick and all indications pointing towards that continuing the Angels are still willing to listen in on offers. Let us count the ways.
Like breaking up with a girlfriend (or boyfriend) who you are trying to let down easy: it’s not you Kendrick, its me. Or rather, it’s the Angels.
Despite having one of the worst farm systems in the majors, the Angels do have some surprising depth at the four position. Grant Green is not an ideal replacement for Kendrick when it comes to the glove. However, Green could possibly hold his own with the bat, posting a 105 OPS+ in 137 plate appearances with the Angels. He doesn’t have Kendrick’s home run power but does have plenty of gap power and he’s more patient at the plate than Kendrick. And even if Green doesn’t work out, there is Taylor Lindsey who proved more than capable at the litmus test that is Double-A Arkansas where he slugged 17 home runs and 22 doubles in the pitching-friendly Texas League.
Couple this depth with the Angels need for pitching and not a lot of other trade options on top of a bloated payroll, and the idea of trading Kendrick becomes all that more enticing for the Angels. Not only would they get some payroll relief but they could likely bring a big league ready pitcher(or two) as well as a prospect (or two).
So it comes back to the break-up analogy: it’s not Howie Kendrick’s fault, it’s the Angels. He posted the second highest WAR on the 2013 Angels season last year. He’s in his prime. He’s arguably a top 5 second-basemen. But with the Angels on a tight budget and with little to work with, it might be time for the two to part ways.