Howie Kendrick Rumors

Trade Notes: Porcello, Ramirez, Upton, Kendrick, Padres

It’s already been a fairly active winter on the trade front, as we’ve seen the Brewers acquire Adam Lind, the D’Backs acquire Jeremy Hellickson, the Tigers acquire Anthony Gose and of course the Cardinals/Braves Jason Heyward blockbuster. All of this has come before the Winter Meetings, so action on the trade front only figures to increase over the next month. Here are some of the latest rumblings from around the league…

  • ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets that in addition to Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister and the Reds’ quartet of starters that are rumored to be available (Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Mike Leake and Alfredo Simon), Rick Porcello is believed to be attainable in trades. Rival evaluators feel that many players that are set to be free agents a year from now could be had for the right offer. The Tigers, of course, are aiming to contend in 2015, but Porcello is projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $12.2MM in arbitration and could fetch a nice piece while freeing up some cash for GM Dave Dombrowski to address other areas of need.
  • Olney also hears (Twitter link) that the White Sox‘ asking price on Alexei Ramirez is “steep to the degree that you’d want to be buying in for two to three years.” Ramirez is guaranteed $10MM next season and has a $10MM club option for the 2016 season with a $1MM buyout.
  • The Mariners will surely make a run at either Justin Upton or Evan Gattis, if they haven’t already, according to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter links). O’Brien gets the sense that top prospect Taijuan Walker is not completely off the table in trade talks with Seattle, but it would probably take more than one year of Upton to acquire him.
  • Angels GM Jerry Dipoto tells Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times that he’s had trade discussions regarding Howie Kendrick, but he’s in no way eager to move his second baseman. The Halos entered the offseason thinking they might be able to move Kendrick for a controllable, young rotation option but somewhat surprisingly did so by acquiring Nick Tropeano in the Hank Conger trade. “The only way we would move him is if we become a better club,” Dipoto tells DiGiovanna. “And it would take a heck of a deal for us to feel like we’re a better club by moving Howie.”
  • Though much has been made of the possibility that the Padres could trade Tyson Ross or Andrew Cashner to bolster the club’s offense, the team is now strongly considering hanging onto both pitchers, sources tell MLB.com’s Corey Brock. Interestingly, Brock’s report mentions reported trade interest in Ian Kennedy but does not state that the Friars are similarly likely to hold onto the 29-year-old. Kennedy will be a free agent next winter.

Yankees, Blue Jays Inquired On Kendrick; Angels May Hold

The Angels remain open, but not committed, to dealing second baseman Howie Kendrick or third baseman David Freese if they can bring back an arm, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The former is unsurprisingly drawing more interest at the moment, with the Yankees and Blue Jays among the teams that have inquired into his availability.

According to Heyman, the Halos are more likely than not to keep Kendrick. The 31-year-old is coming off of perhaps his best season as a professional. He will earn $9.5MM this year before hitting the open market.

Nevertheless, the team is still listening to proposals that would help bolster its rotation depth, which remains an area of focus. The club is comfortable considering that possibility due to the presence of Gordon Beckham, says Heyman, though he also seems to be a plausible non-tender candidate. Presumably, Grant Green could be a factor as well if the Angels create an opening up the middle.


AL West Notes: Kendrick, Astros, Engel Beltre

The Angels remain open to trading second baseman Howie Kendrick, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  Kendrick, 31, is eligible for free agency after the season.  More from the AL West…

  • The Astros’ 2015 payroll still projects to be in the $70MM range, explains Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle.  The team has about $17.7MM committed for 2015 for four players, plus around $21MM for their seven essential arbitration eligible players, a few of whom could be traded.  It’s easy to see that this team has some money to spend.
  • Drellich says “there’s little expectation the Astros would add a player who received a qualifying offer,” but admits that the team will be more open to giving up a draft pick this winter.  “We have two protected picks.  So a qualifying offer is not necessarily an impediment to how we would behave compared to a team that had a pick that was their only pick, and that was No. 13 or 15 or something like that. So we have that advantage,” said GM Jeff Luhnow.  The Astros would give up the competitive balance round pick they acquired from the Marlins in the summer if they sign one of the 11 qualified free agents.  The Astros were linked to Hanley Ramirez earlier today.
  • Outfielder Engel Beltre has elected free agency after refusing an outright assignment to Triple-A from the Rangers, writes Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.com.  GM Jon Daniels said, “He’s exploring other options.  We are as well. We haven’t closed the door. We haven’t made him an offer at this point.”  Beltre, who missed the entire 2014 season with a fractured tibia, was a key piece of the Rangers’ return from the Red Sox for Eric Gagne at the 2007 trade deadline.


AL East Notes: Jays, Kendrick, Yanks, Cruz, Sox

Blue Jays president Paul Beeston appears set to continue on in that capacity, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. Of course, as Davidi notes, both Beeston and GM Alex Anthopoulos could face questions if a postseason berth is not in the offing in 2015. The front office will have at least $20MM to $30MM in free salary, Davidi reasons, which could be bolstered with a spending increase and/or move to shed some payroll obligations. As Davidi rightly notes, Toronto has a very clean balance sheet after this year, which could potentially leave the team with a big hammer to wield in free agency.

Here’s more from Toronto and the rest of the AL East:

  • The Blue Jays have a number of possible offseason targets on both the trade and free agent front, writes Sportsnet.ca’s Ben Nicholson-Smith. Among them is Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick, who Toronto has “placed multiple calls on,” according to Nicholson-Smith — who, it should be noted, also recently reported that the Jays are on Kendrick’s no-trade list.
  • Whether or not the Yankees are big free agent spenders this year remains to be seen, but the club’s financial muscle is flexed in many and disparate ways, as Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs writes. Over recent years, New York has consistently controlled the market for minor league free agents, bringing bigger and better offers to the table for players like Yangervis Solarte. (In an interesting note to give context to this relatively minimal spending, McDaniel says a team source told him the team could break even financially even if it carried $500MM in total payroll obligations, including luxury tax costs.)
  • The early set of rotation targets for the Yankees features names like Brandon McCarthy, Jason Hammel, and Chris Capuano, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. That jibes with another recent report suggesting that New York has no current plans to attack the arms at the top of the market.
  • Free agent closer David Robertson, who is currently weighing a qualifying offer from the Yankees, is one of the most fascinating free agents to watch. Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes that his sense is the club will be interested in exploring a multi-year deal with Robertson, but may not chase him at the top of the market and would be comfortable allowing him to walk.
  • Another QO recipient, Nelson Cruz, told MLB Network Radio (via Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun) that a return to the Orioles is his preferred outcome. “No doubt it’s my first choice,” said Cruz. “I’d love to be back. I understand the business. I know they’re interested in bringing me back. Hopefully we can work something out.” Cruz was not willing to say he would take a lesser deal to stay in Baltimore, though it is obviously hard to fault him for not copping to that publicly — or, for that matter, for choosing the best contract offer he receives, if that ultimately proves to be the case.
  • The Red Sox catcher of the future is Blake Swihart, not Christian Vazquez, opines J.J. Cooper of Baseball America. But the team need not decide now how it will sort out the presence of two highly-regarded young backstops. Instead, the team has the option of adding a veteran presence alongside Vazquez for the coming year while Swihart continues to develop in the minors. Assuming Swihart establishes himself as a big league regular, Boston will have plenty of time to assess whether it makes more sense to keep both players or deal one away.

Details On Howie Kendrick’s No-Trade Clause

Angels infielder Howie Kendrick‘s extension contains a clause permitting him to block trades to four teams this year. As Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reports on Twitter, Kendrick can decline a swap that would send him to the Blue Jays, Mets, Rays, or Marlins.

The 31-year-old second baseman has been mentioned as a trade candidate as he enters the final year of the extension he signed before the 2012 season. Kendrick is owed $9.5MM this year before hitting the open market.

Kendrick could hold appeal to several teams given his reasonable price tag and lack of a long-term commitment. Of course, the Jays, Mets, and Marlins are all clubs that seem poised (on paper, at least) to pursue additions up the middle, so his no-trade choices could well have an impact on his market.

For the contending Halos, the possibility of a deal seems tied primarily to the desire to open up payroll space. After all, Kendrick has produced at or above the league average rate in every year but his first. And he has been a consistently strong producer in recent years: since 2012, Kendrick has averaged 594 plate appearances and a .292/.336/.410 line and has been good for about twenty combined homers and steals per campaign.

With solid defensive marks, Kendrick has been a consistently above-average player on the whole. And a jump in defensive metrics last year thrust him into the four-to-five WAR range. That is an appealing total package, particularly when his good record of durability and limited commitment are factored in.


Angels Likely To Trade Kendrick Or Freese

The Angels are likely to trade either second baseman Howie Kendrick or third baseman David Freese, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. Kendrick will make $9.5MM in the last season of a four-year deal after hitting .293/.347/.397 in 2014. Freese, who made $5.05MM last season after arriving from the Cardinals in a trade, will likely receive a raise in his last season of arbitration eligibility before free agency. He hit .261/.321/.383 in his first season in Anaheim.

The Angels would like to add starting pitching or left-handed relief help, and dealing a relatively expensive player in Kendrick or Freese would help with their luxury tax issues. Gordon Beckham, who the Angels acquired from the White Sox in a minor deal in August, could replace either player as a starter, or the Angels could use Grant Green at second. Beckham and Green would likely be downgrades, however, particularly if the Angels were to trade Kendrick.


Braves Notes: Kendrick, Uggla, Vasquez, Mejia

Here's the latest on the Braves from David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

  • The Braves aren't pursuing Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick, O'Brien tweets.  Kendrick was thought to be on the trade market earlier this offseason as the Angels were looking to acquire young pitching, though now that the Halos have added Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs by dealing Mark Trumbo, it seems unlikely that they'd unload another regular unless they were trying to create payroll space for another move.
  • Of course, Atlanta already has a second baseman in Dan Uggla, though the veteran has struggled badly over the last two seasons and wasn't on the Braves' postseason roster in October.  The Braves were known to be exploring an Uggla trade this offseason but O'Brien tweets that he hasn't heard of any teams interested in taking Uggla.
  • Right-hander Luis Vasquez was signed to a minor league deal in November and has drawn the attention of several teams due to a standout performance in the Dominican League.  At the Winter Meetings, Braves GM Frank Wren said that received several comments and queries about Vasquez from other scouts and executives.  Vasquez will fight for a job in Atlanta's bullpen at Spring Training.
  • The acquisition of minor league first baseman Mark Hamilton could make Ernesto Mejia more expendable, O'Brien opines.  Mejia, 28, has hit 78 homers over his last three seasons and a career .279/.340/.493 slash line in 3492 minor league PA, but he has yet to reach the majors after nine pro seasons.  Mejia is defensively limited at first base and records a lot of strikeouts, which is why O'Brien categorizes him as a "Quad-A" type of player.

D-Backs, ChiSox, Angels Optimistic About Three-Team Deal

12:33pm: The White Sox have asked the Halos about Hank Conger this winter, but he's not believed to be in play on this trade, tweets Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times.

12:22pm: The deal is "getting pretty close," a source tells MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez (Twitter link). Though he was discussed in a separate trade with the White Sox and Angels, Kendrick is not part of this deal, Gonzalez adds.

12:10pm: USA Today's Bob Nightengale reports that the three teams are optimistic about their chances of finalizing the trade (Twitter link). Meanwhile, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic agrees with Gilbert's report from below, noting that Arizona would receive one prospect from the Angels and one from the Sox (also on Twitter).

11:38am: MLB.com's Steve Gilbert tweets that Arizona would receive a pair of good prospects in addition to Trumbo.

11:27am: Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago (via Twitter) hears that the talks are definitely ongoing but are still in the preliminary phases. The three sides are making some progress but a deal isn't close at this time, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register agrees (on Twitter).

11:02am: The Angels tried to land Santiago from the White Sox in talks for Howie Kendrick, tweets Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times, but they're now focused on getting him as part of this three-team deal.

10:50am: ESPN's Keith Law reports (via Twitter) that the Mark Trumbo talks between the Diamondbacks and Angels have expanded to include the White Sox, with a potential framework sending Adam Eaton to Chicago and Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs to the Angels.

Parting with Skaggs and Eaton would be a steep price to pay in order to play Trumbo out of position at a corner outfield spot, but reports have indicated that the D-Backs are "determined" to leave Orlando with either Trumbo or Shin-Soo Choo in tow, and the financial commitment required to add Choo would be significant. Adding Skaggs and Santiago would be a tremendous win for Angels GM Jerry Dipoto, who has been in the market for controllable young starters for months.


Quick Hits: Granderson, Beltran, Trumbo, Cano

In today's conference call to announce Tony Clark as the new executive director of the MLBPA, free agent Curtis Granderson didn't give reporters, including Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (on Twitter), the impression that they are right on the cusp of a deal with the Mets. "We ate a nice meal and it was great to enjoy some salmon … It was kind of what you could expect," said the outfielder.  Here's more from around baseball..


Heyman On Trumbo, Ellsbury, Davis, Santana

Mark Trumbo is the Angels' most wanted player via trade, but the Halos are very reluctant to trade him, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. "He fits us," said someone connected to the Angels. Meanwhile, Erick Aybar, Howie Kendrick, Peter Bourjos and Chris Iannetta also are getting a fair number of trade inquiries, and they could move one of them.  Here's more of Heyman's latest..

  • One club with interest in Jacoby Ellsbury says that agent Scott Boras has set Carl Crawford's $142MM contract as a benchmark in discussions, Heyman writes.  One rival GM who isn't in on Ellsbury argued that Crawford was better and more durable at the time of his deal.
  • The Astros, Orioles, Rays, Brewers and Rockies all have checked in on Mets first baseman Ike Davis, despite his awful 2013 campaign, according to Heyman. In the case of Milwaukee, however, they may prefer re-signing Corey Hart instead.
  • Heyman suggests that the Marlins and Cubs could discuss a swap of top prospects and officials from both sides agree that they could have something to discuss.  The Cubs have high-end position prospects such as Kris Bryant (who may be untouchable), Javier Baez, and Albert Almora, while Miami has a stockpile of strong young arms.
  • We learned last week that Ervin Santana's asking price was $100MM and today Heyman hears that agents Bean Stringfellow, Joe White, and Jay Alou are seeking a five-year, $112MM pact.  The agents are going around with a book of arguments to support their case, including some comparisons to Dodgers star pitcher Zack Greinke.
  • The A's have joined the fray for free agent Nelson Cruz, but the small-market club could run into problems when it comes to dollars and years, Heyman writes.  Oakland has been looking for a right-handed-hitting outfielder after declining to pick up the option on Chris Young, but Cruz would be a much bigger splash than anyone anticipated.