The Dodgers are looking into the possibility of a trade involving infielder/outfielder Howie Kendrick, according to a report from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. It appears the move may be motivated at least in part by the fact that Kendrick was not enamored of his multi-positional usage last year.
Sources tell Rosenthal that the 33-year-old could end up being shipped to the Phillies, who apparently have interest. The Angels also make good sense, Rosenthal notes. It isn’t clear whether trade discussions are particularly active right now, or whether the possibility of a deal is something that will be pondered over the course of the offseason.
From the Dodgers’ perspective, gaining clarity on Kendrick may best be accomplished early. Though he spent significant time in left field in 2016, it had seemed rather likely that he’d return to his natural second base — whether or not joined by a platoon partner — for the season to come. Of course, the Dodgers surely wouldn’t be shy about utilizing him at third or in a broader utility role. But whether the team feels it can allocate resources elsewhere or simply thinks it’s better off honoring Kendrick’s apparent wishes, it seems there’s at least some momentum toward a deal.
Both of the teams mentioned make a good deal of sense on paper. The Phillies do have a rather productive second baseman on hand already, but could still use Kendrick in the infield or corner outfield. While the club isn’t exactly desperate to plug holes as a contender might be, it’s clearly seeking good value on respected veterans who don’t require multi-year commitments. With just one year and $10MM owed to Kendrick, he fits that mold perfectly, and Philly’s immense payroll space would easily accommodate the salary.
The Angels, likewise, are looking to avoid lengthy tie-ups, but in their case there’s a more urgent need to add quality major league pieces. Kendrick spent much of his career with Los Angeles’s other team, and the Halos have a clear need for a second baseman. Of course, the organization doesn’t necessarily have a lot of flexibility to move assets — whether major leaguers or prospects — to make a deal work.
Of course, the Dodgers may not have immense leverage in moving Kendrick. He was certainly not himself at the plate last year, slashing just .255/.326/.366 over 543 plate appearances, which made 2016 the worst offensive season of Kendrick’s career. And though Kendrick had typically rated well in the field, his 2015 work at second base was panned by defensive metrics. While he actually received solid marks in left field last year, that’s not really where his peak value lies.