With memories of his postseason heroics still fresh in mind, Howie Kendrick is drawing widespread interest in free agency. After reports this week connected the veteran infielder to the Rays and Marlins, the Reds can be counted as a third team reportedly interested in acquiring Kendrick’s services, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (link).
For a club expected to pursue offensive improvements, Kendrick seems to make a perfect bedfellow. The 36-year-old just wrapped a .344/.395/.572 regular season showing over 370 plate appearances (before accounting for October exploits), and his Statcast numbers gave exuberant support to his mastery at the plate. His defensive fit on the club would presumably lead to a few more chess moves, however, considering that the club remains heavily committed to incumbent first baseman Joey Votto.
In our Offseason Outlook feature on the Cincinnati club, second base was identified as a primary need, and the former full-time keystone player did log 23 games at that spot last year. Whether or not Kendrick’s body is up for the challenge of a full slate of up-the-middle action is an open question, however; it’s worth noting that the Reds have two in-house options, in Freddy Galvis and Josh VanMeter, capable of assuming the left-handed side of a platoon with Kendrick. It’s possible the team could also squeeze in a few starts for Kendrick at third, although Eugenio Suarez just wrapped an excellent season in which he logged 158 games at the hot corner. Regardless of how they might plan to ultimately squeeze Kendrick’s bat into their lineup, Cincinnati’s interest is further evidence of a rather robust early market for the versatile veteran.