On the heels of an outstanding bounceback campaign, veteran utilityman Howie Kendrick seems to be a popular early target. Britt Ghiroli of The Athletic reports on Twitter that at least a pair of teams are already showing interest.
The Rays and Marlins are two of the clubs knocking on the door at the outset of the open-market season, per Ghiroli, who indicates there are others as well. It’s not hard to imagine why — though for different reasons with respect to each team.
Kendrick turned in a .344/.395/.572 regular season showing over 370 plate appearances before coming up with two enormously important postseason home runs. He also hit the ball harder than just about anyone in baseball during the 2019 and remains capable of spending at least some time at second base and the corner outfield. He’s a part-time guy, but a pretty darn good one.
For the Rays, Kendrick would presumably function mostly as a right-handed-hitting component in their first base/DH mix, while appearing as needed elsewhere on the diamond. Given their numerous existing options, he’d be one nice piece of the puzzle. The Marlins, meanwhile, would like to up their offensive output while adding some veteran leadership.
Kendrick is a Florida native, Ghiroli notes, but he resides in Phoenix. That would seem to leave plenty of room for multiple possibilities, if geographical preferences will drive his decision at all. It stands to reason that the 36-year-old would like to play again for a contending outfit, all else being equal.
We noted that the Rays made for a nice possible fit in our recent Top 50 Free Agent predictions here at MLBTR, though we ultimately guessed Kendrick would land with the Twins. That prediction was based in part upon the notion that there’d be sufficient interest to drive him into a two-year deal at around $6MM annually, which might be a bit rich for the Tampa Bay org. Ghiroli notes that Kendrick is seeking a short-term arrangement, though it’s not evident whether he has a preference for a one or two-year pact.