Howie Kendrick Rumors

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.

Cafardo On Free Agency, Price, Nathan, Lackey

Free agents are not allowed to negotiate with all 30 MLB clubs until 11:01 pm (CT) Monday, but agent Scott Boras says his phone was ringing off the hook regarding Jacoby Ellsbury and Stephen Drew within hours of the Red Sox winning the World Series, reports Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. The Yankees will be the most interesting team during free agency, according to Cafardo, but will be hamstrung until a decision is made on Alex Rodriguez's appeal. Cafardo also lists the Phillies, Tigers, Giants, Orioles, Blue Jays, and Rangers as active participants in the free agent market. In other tidbits from his Sunday Baseball Notes column:


Cafardo On Arroyo, Kendrick, Braun, Cano

Timing is everything in baseball and Joe Girardi is hitting the open market at the perfect time, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes.  The Cubs always saw landing Girardi as a longshot, but they'll give it another go this winter.  From the Yankees perspective, they'd be foolish not to lock Girardi up with a lucrative new deal, in Cafardo's opinion.  Few managers, he argues, could have survived the injuries that the Yankees were dealing with and kept them in the playoff chase in September.  If Girardi bails for Chicago or elsewhere, Cafardo suggests Don Mattingly as a candidate.  Of course, the Dodgers would have to fire him or work out a trade for that to happen.  Here's more from today's column..

  • Bronson Arroyo says he wants a three-year deal and he feels his time in Cincinnati is likely over. “I have no preference on where I want to pitch but I’ll certainly consider the team, their chances of winning, and all of that,” he said. “I feel I can pitch effectively at 37, 38, and 39 years old. I’ve never missed a start. Never been injured. I’m not a max-effort guy out there, so there’s no big-time wear and tear on me. I loved Cincinnati but I don’t think they’re in position to give me what I want.” Cafardo suggests the Blue Jays, Orioles, Brewers, Cubs, Giants, Pirates, Cardinals, and Dodgers as possibilities.
  • It's looking increasingly likely that Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick will be traded for pitching or prospects. The Royals need second base help and would have interest.  The Orioles may also be interested if they cut ties with Brian Roberts this winter.  The O's haven't decided what to do with Roberts just yet but they wouldn't go beyond a one-year deal to keep him. 
  • It has been suggested that the Brewers could trade Ryan Braun, but finding someone willing to take on his baggage and lucrative deal could be tricky.  “I don’t think he’s going anywhere. Someone would have to take a big chance and nobody’s doing that on PED guys, especially for that length of contract,” said one exec.
  • Bench coach Tony Pena is not likely to replace Girardi as manager if he goes elsewhere. “I don’t think anyone in our front office is even thinking about that,” said one Yankees official.
  • Many believe that the Dodgers won't be serious players for Robinson Cano, but things can change with an early exit from the playoffs.

Angels To Explore Trading Kendrick In Offseason

Over the coming offseason, the Angels will explore the possibility of adding young, starting pitching through a trade of 30-year-old second baseman Howie Kendrick, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The club came close to dealing Kendrick to the cross-town Dodgers at the trade deadline, which reportedly would have netted a top pitching prospect in Zach Lee. Heyman adds that the club is less interested in shopping Mark Trumbo and Peter Bourjos, and Erick Aybar, each of whom is controlled through 2017. 

Kendrick inked a four-year, $33.5MM extension after a big 2011 campaign in which he posted a .285/.338/.464 triple-slash to go with fourteen steals and eighteen long balls. Depending upon whether his defense was viewed as excellent or merely average, he contributed between 4.5 WAR (Baseball-Reference) and 5.7 WAR (Fangraphs) that year. After a down 2012 saw his on-base and (especially) power numbers fall, leaving him with a roughly league-average line, Kendrick has rebounded at the plate in 2013 and is currently hitting .301/.341/.437. With his fielding and baserunning ticking slightly up and then back down, Kendrick has been valued as a three-win player over this year and last.

The net is that Kendrick has demonstrated the capacity to be excellent and seems to have established a baseline as an above-average player. He does not turn 31 until next July, and has been resiliant over his career, though he is currently on the DL with a knee injury. With two years and $18.85MM left on his contract, he should be a reasonably attractive commodity on the trade market, although he is certainly not a bargain at this point.

Also benefitting the Angels is the status of Kendrick's no-trade protection, which drops from twelve teams to just six next year (and four in 2015). That should make it easier for the Angels to find compatible trade partners, though one might expect Kendrick's agency (Reynolds Sports Management) to choose keystone-needy, ready-to-spend clubs for the list.

For the Angels, the challenge in shopping Kendrick will be to get sufficient value while avoiding the creation of a new hole at second. To be sure, the Angels face an imbalance between their potent hitting and underwhelming pitching, which Fangraphs' Dave Cameron recently explored. As Cameron notes, however, the staff has not been so bad as to single-handedly keep the club from contending, and the defense shares in the blame for the Halos' inability to prevent runs. As for a replacement, the team seems to see a lot of promise in recent acquisition Grant Green, who has a 108 OPS+ in 95 plate appearances since taking over for the injured Kendrick. But Green has always been considered a project defensively and has been graded harshly by advanced metrics in his short stint thus far.


Angels, Dodgers Discussed Trade For Kendrick In July

The Angels and Dodgers "held extensive trade discussions" about a possible deal that would've sent Howie Kendrick from Angel Stadium to Chavez Ravine, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports.  Negotiations went on right up until the July 31 deadline, a source tells Rosenthal, and Zach Lee would've been part of the package that went back to the Angels in return.  It isn't clear which team backed away from the deal.

Kendrick also drew attention from the Blue Jays and Royals before the deadline as the Angels openly shopped a number of pieces on their roster in an attempt to gauge their trade value and obtain young, MLB-ready pitching.  (Alberto Callaspo and Scott Downs ended up being the only notable Angels moved in July.)  ESPN's Jayson Stark reported on July 30 that the Angels and Dodgers had discussed Kendrick, but there was no indication that a deal was close.

Kendrick has a partial no-trade clause that allows him to block trades to 12 teams, but Rosenthal notes that the Dodgers aren't one of them.  Rosenthal says the Halos are likelier to deal Kendrick than they are Erick Aybar since they think it's easier to find a replacement at second base than at shortstop.  Indeed, Anaheim may already have an in-house second base option in Grant Green.

The Dodgers' pursuit of Kendrick could be a sign, Rosenthal notes, that the team is looking for second base options besides Robinson Cano.  It has been widely speculated that the Dodgers would be one of the very few teams that could meet Cano's salary demands in free agency but we heard earlier today that L.A. might not pursue Cano (or any major free agents) this offseason.

Kendrick, 30, has hit .301/.341/.437 with 11 homers in 451 PA, though hasn't played since August 5 due to a sprained left knee.  He is owed $18.85MM over the 2014-15 seasons, the last two years of his current four-year contract.  According to Cot's Baseball Contracts, Kendrick's limited no-trade protection drops to just six blocked teams in 2014, so the Halos could have a wider array of trade partners in the new year.

Lee, the 28th overall pick of the 2010 draft, was ranked by MLB.com as the sport's 78th-best prospect prior to the 2013 season.  The right-hander has a 3.19 ERA, 8.4 K/9 and 3.9 K/BB ratio in 26 games (23 of them starts) at Double-A this season.  Lee's name has popped up in a few trade rumors in recent years, perhaps most notably in a rumored deal for Matt Garza in July 2012.


Angels Notes: Scioscia, Dipoto, Trout, Pitching

As noted earlier today, the Angels' acquisition of infielder Grant Green from the Athletics looks to be a sound move thus far, but the team still has plenty of holes, namely in the pitching department. Here's more on the Halos…

  • Asked by Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times whether or not GM Jerry Dipoto and manager Mike Scioscia would return next season, owner Arte Moreno declined comment. Not surprisingly, Scioscia told Shaikin that he wants to remain with the Angels. He says he has not given any thought to one day managing his hometown Phillies now that Charlie Manuel has been fired.
  • One general manager told Peter Gammons of the MLB Network that the Angels have the two most unmovable contracts in baseball in Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols. The same GM added that they "have no farm system" after trading for Zack Greinke and forfeiting their 2013 first-rounder to sign Hamilton, and they've wasted the inexpensive years of Mike Trout's career.
  • Dipoto failed on his four offseason pitching acquisitions, writes Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times. Ryan Madson, Sean Burnett, Tommy Hanson and Joe Blanton have contributed very little for the Halos, which Dipoto himself acknowledged. The team is confident that Burnett will be healthy for 2014, but DiGiovanna writes that Blanton could be released in the offseason and Hanson non-tendered. The thin market for free agent pitching might ultimately lead the Halos to consider trading Mark Trumbo, Peter Bourjos, Erick Aybar or Howie Kendrick for young, controllable pitching help.

Blue Jays Interested In Howie Kendrick

1:30pm: The Angels are likely to keep Kendrick, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).  The Halos couldn't find the right match for a starting pitcher but could revisit things this offseason.

10:43am: In recent days, the Blue Jays have expressed geniune interest in Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick, according to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.  While the Blue Jays aren't buyers in the traditional sense, they are looking at ways of addressing needs for 2013 and beyond.

Kendrick, 30, will earn the prorated portion of $8.75MM in 2013, $9.35MM in 2014, and $9.5MM in 2015 before hitting free agency.  This season, Kendrick is hitting .301/.344/.446 with eleven homers and is looking stronger than he did in 2012.

The Angels have also discussed Kendrick with the Royals as Kansas City combs the market for a second baseman. According to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times, the Halos would require a front-line, Major League or MLB-ready starting pitcher for Kendrick or Erick Aybar. This morning, DiGiovanna noted that the club is fielding numerous inquiries on Kendrick, who has a no-trade list of a dozen teams.