Report: Halos Hanging onto Howie Kendrick


Joel Sherman of the New York Post went on MLB Network earlier this week and stated that Angels’ general manager, Jerry Dipoto, will not be trading, Howie Kendrick. Jeff Fletcher, who covers the Halos for the Orange County Register, backed up Sherman’s claim later in the day. Fletcher said that Dipoto has made it clear in their conversations that he “would like to keep (Kendrick).”

Ken Rosenthal filed a story on October 31st that suggested the Angels were open to moving Kendrick or, David Freese, for the right price. The Halos were able to complete a couple deals last week to acquire valuable pitching depth without having to deal Kendrick or Freese. Mix that in with Mike DiGiovanna’s report that, Garrett Richards, is ahead of schedule in his recovery from knee surgery, and all of a sudden it is not such a desperate situation in Anaheim.

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Howie Kendrick had his best season in 2014, and has already drawn interest from the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees this offseason. Kendrick was the unsung hero of the club this past season, slotting in all over the Angels lineup. Kendrick was an unconventional cleanup hitter for the Halos while Josh Hamilton was on the shelf. His 75 RBI’s, .347 OBP, and 14 stolen bases all tied career highs. Howie hit .293 in 2014, besting his .292 career average. Kendrick had a career year, finishing 18th in MVP voting.

It is hard to argue with the notion that keeping both Kendrick and Freese gives the Angels their best chance to win the World Series in 2015. However, the debate amongst fans has more to do with the long-term future of the franchise than it does next season. Both Kendrick and Freese are set to become free agents at seasons end, and the Halos minor league system is not exactly full of promising prospects. Dealing one or both of these players could help restock the farm in Anaheim.

What fans forget is that the Angels no longer function as a low budget ball club, who are reliant on cultivating their own talent. Apart from Mike Trout, the Angels have utilized free agency and traded for established veterans to fill needs in recent seasons. The Halos are not in the business of developing young talent; the Angels are in the business of acquiring big name talent from other organizations. While fans may not believe it is the best way to build a ball club, myself included, this is the method the Angels have elected to employ. The Angels are far more likely to sign a new second baseman next offseason, than they are to supplant Kendrick with someone from within the organization. The Halos are in a “win now” mindset, and with a roster full of aging stars, I cannot fault them for that.

It is widely speculated that the Angels are still interested in acquiring more arms, but after last week’s activity, it appears their situation has become much more stable. This leaves three options for the Halos to add to their rotation. The first option is using in-house pitchers such as Hector Santiago, Cory Rasmus, or the recently acquired, Nick Tropeano, to fill the empty spots. The second option; the Angels could deal another player, not named Freese or Kendrick, to land pitching depth. The final, and most likely option for the Halos is to explore free agency.

The Angels are right up against the luxury tax threshold; it is believed they have less than $10 million to spend. This makes signing a big name pitcher like Max Scherzer, Jon Lester, or James Shields unlikely. In the coming days, Halo Hangout we will be profiling free agents who the Angels can afford and could potentially target this offseason.

As Jeff Fletcher pointed out, Dipoto made a similar statement at this time last year regarding the availability of, Mark Trumbo. Dipoto said that the Angels were likely to keep Trumbo in 2014, shortly after making the comment Trumbo was shipped to the Arizona Diamondbacks. It is still far too early to tell how this situation with Howie Kendrick and David Freese will pan out, but you can bet the Halos will keep listening to offers on both players.