Is Howie Kendrick still on the market?
That’s the big question after the Angels attained some much-desired cost-controlled starting pitching by using backup catcher Hank Conger to get 24-year-old right-hander Nick Tropeano (and Minor League catcher Carlos Perez) from the Astros.
Howie Kendrick’s name has been thrown around quite a bit this month, similar to what took place around this time last year. Last week, Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reporting before the trade that the Angels are “likely” to trade Kendrick, along with third baseman and fellow walking free agent David Freese. And on Thursday, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca wrote that the Blue Jays have “placed multiple calls” on Kendrick.
The Blue Jays, Mets, Marlins and Rays are reportedly the four teams Kendrick can block trades to this offseason, and it remains to be seen how aggressively the Angels will continue to shop the 31-year-old right-handed hitter.
Kendrick has been one of the best second basemen in baseball in recent years, posting a .288/.332/.420 slash line since 2010 while compiling a Wins Above Replacement score of 18.7 (according to Baseball-Reference). He’s only got one year left on his contract — at $9.5 million — and second base is the Angels’ deepest position organizationally. Trading him can, at the very least, free up some payroll space, with Grant Green potentially taking over.
But the Angels tried to shop Kendrick for cost-controlled starting pitching last winter and couldn’t get much value in return, ultimately having to use Mark Trumbo to get Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago. And the acquisition of Tropeano at the very least lessens the urgency to part ways with more Major League position players in pursuit of pitching.
“The team that you saw at the end of the season is probably something similar to what you’ll see at the start of the next, as far as our everyday players go,” Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said after Wednesday’s trade. “There could be a subtle change here and there, but we don’t anticipate anything dramatic at this point.”
— Alden Gonzalez