The more I think about and analyze the situation of either David Freese or Howie Kendrick being traded, the more I am beginning to lean towards keeping Howie Kendrick and letting Freese go. I wrote a piece earlier this week as soon as the news broke that Kendrick should be the one on the move and his possible landing spots because I believed he would bring more back in return because of the season he had in 2014. Now, four full days after the report broke, I believe that the Angels should be looking to trade Freese instead of Kendrick.
My thought process for this is simple. I thought about the amount of value each player has on the trade market. Kendrick who can play average to above average defense, and hit for a good amount of power would bring back a good amount of talent in a trade. That being said, I believe the Angels would be better off keeping Kendrick in the middle of the diamond, where he is good at defense and has arguably been one of the better second basemen in the game in the past five seasons. That would bring back a ton of pitching prospects but is it really worth it? No.
Since 2011 Howie Kendrick has produced 16 wins above replacement, fifth best among second basemen in that time frame. Ahead of him are Robinson Cano, Ben Zobrist, Dustin Pedroia and Ian Kinsler. That is a pretty good top four and Kendrick isn’t far behind them. It is rare in the game now to find a second basemen that can hit for power and also play great defense and Kendrick brings that to the table. He is able to hit the ball to all fields and can run the bases well.
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No, he doesn’t show the power of one Robinson Cano, but he also isn’t a payroll burden either. That is why teams are after him. He is a cheaper solution to a power problem at the second base position throughout baseball. Looking at the top second basemen according to WAR since 2011, Robinson Cano has the biggest contract. He will cost the Mariners $240MM overall and $24MM annually through 2023. That contract will take him through his age 40 season.
Dustin Pedroia will be paid $110MM through the 2021 season, making up to $15MM in a season. Ian Kinsler will make $75 million thru the 2017 season and he has an option for ’18. Lastly Ben Zobrist is on his option year with the Rays for $7.5MM. Three of those four make a whole lot more money than Kendrick and he isn’t producing that much less than them. That is why he is wanted by everyone. He can fill a void and also not break the bank only making $9.5MM this season.
Kendrick is a player that comes along once in a great while and you need to keep him for as long as possible. He will be a free agent after the 2015 season, but you worry about that after the season. If the Angels can find a way to work the money around and keep him after next season that is great, but he is needed in 2015 if the Angels want to repeat as AL West Champs.
David Freese on the other hand, is expendable. The options behind him aren’t that great but Freese in a trade could bring back great value. Teams are always looking to find players to play the hot corner and hit for a good amount of power. Freese has that ability and will be wanted by multiple teams. Just look at Pablo Sandoval. He is a much wanted player because of his ability to hit, but he will break the bank with a new contract. It just seems right at this point that the Angels look in the market for a place to trade David Freese and keep Kendrick for the 2015 season and look to lock him down in the 2015 offseason.