Yankees’ Trade Target: 2B Howie Kendrick


Last offseason, while the talk was about the Yankees’ spending spree in free agency, some of the discussion revolved around losing second baseman Robinson Cano to free agency. This season, the Bronx Bombers who played second base hit .246 (18th in MLB), ninth in home runs with 13, and 19th in runs scored with 69. Of course, you have to take into account that most of the season saw players like Brian Roberts, Stephen Drew, and Kelly Johnson manning that position. On Friday afternoon, it was reported that there just might be a name available this winter that could be a piece that would instantly upgrade the Yankees at second base.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported on Friday that the Los Angeles Angels are likely to trade second baseman Howie Kendrick or third baseman David Freese this winter. While New York did have interest in trading for Freese last winter when he was the Cardinals, I want to keep the focus on Kendrick, who has one year left on his contract worth a little under $10 million.

Last season, the 31-year-old second baseman hit .293 with seven home runs and 75 RBI’s. Kendrick has hit over .285 in each of his last four seasons, including 60+ RBI’s in five of his last six seasons. Of course, people will want Kendrick because of his career against the Yankees, who he hits .404 against in 59 games with three home runs and 24 RBI’s.

One of the reasons that the Angels are looking to trade Kendrick is they have depth at the second base position in their system and they look at Kendrick as a piece that they could trade away to gain some starting pitching. What could the Angels want from the Yankees in a hypothetical deal? I asked Ryan Ritchey, the editor of Halo Hangout, that exact question. He told me:

"Kendrick is an offensive upgrade for the Yanks, so the Angels would need something young and hopefully controllable. Looking at NY’s 40-man, I don’t see anything in my opinion that could be a great deal. I doubt NY wants to let go of Greene [Shane Greene]."

Los Angeles is in need of a starting pitcher after having a starters’ ERA of 3.62 (13th in MLB) and missing Garrett Richards for a big part of last season due to injury. A deal may seem unlikely when you look at a team like the Toronto Blue Jays, who have a ton of pitching depth after trading Adam Lind to the Milwaukee Brewers for Marco Estrada. Plus, it is unknown whether the Yankees are one of four teams that Kendrick could void a trade to as a clause on his contract.

That being said, Kendrick could be an interesting move for the Yankees if they decide to go the trade route this offseason. Keep in mind that the second baseman’s numbers last season were third at the position in batting average, fifth in RBI’s, fourth in hits, and for you sabermetricians out there, fourth in WAR (5.4).

The seven-year veteran could also bring lineup flexibility to the New York Yankees. He is great against lefties, hitting .327 against southpaws last season in 71 games. Plus, he could hit anywhere from fourth to seventh in the order, with the occasional day in the leadoff spot. This is in an lineup that included the likes of Mike Trout and Albert Pujols last season for the AL West Champs.

The one aspect about Kendrick’s game that brings up somewhat of a question mark is his defense. Over the last three seasons, he has made 35 combined errors. His 11 errors were tied for the third most among second baseman with only Dee Gordon, Brian Dozier, and Daniel Murphy committing more field miscues.

As I mentioned before, it is unlikely that the Yankees have the pieces to make a trade like this happen, but it is a name to watch because if New York adds starting pitching relatively early in the winter, it could make Greene more expendable after his solid season this year. Plus, the Yankees’ strength in their farm system, a position at which the Angels only have one prospect (Cal Towey) ranked in the top 20 of their system, according to MLB Pipeline.

New York does have Martin Prado who could play some second base along with a potential spring training competition between Rob Refsnyder and Jose Pirela, who is tearing up winter ball right now. You could also look at Kendrick as a short-term plan to allow more time for the two prospects to develop and become full-time starters in 2016 with Kendrick on a short-term deal.

New York has a chance to trade for another second baseman who is one of the best at the position and would instantly upgrade the offense. Sound familiar Yankees’ fans?