After a year of playing outside of his comfort zone at three different positions other than his usual second base for the Dodgers, Howie Kendrick is reportedly on the trade block, per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
"The Dodgers are exploring a trade of Kendrick, who grew frustrated with his role last season, according to major-league sources," Rosenthal wrote.
Rosenthal mentioned the Phillies and Angels, the latter Kendrick’s home for the first nine years of his career, as possible landing spots for Kendrick, now 33.
It makes sense from both sides, even though at the moment the Dodgers have question marks at both second and third base, though we are literally in the opening days of the offseason.
On one hand, Kendrick after a decade and 1,061 starts at second base was a sort-of everyday utility man in 2016, with 79 starts in left field, 14 starts at third base and seven starts at first base in addition to his 23 starts at second base. Though he got 565 plate appearances in the regular season, he started only against left-handed pitchers in the postseason.
During the NLCS, manager Dave Roberts said he felt he didn’t need to have a discussion with the veteran Kendrick about his reduced playing time in the playoffs.
"There hasn't been a conversation. I think that for me and for Howie and for everyone, everyone understands that you can be used at any point in time in the game," Roberts said. "Howie, as a professional, he's ready for whatever role or situation that I have for him."
Kendrick made three postseason starts in 11 games, though he did appear in six of the other eight games. He amassed 23 total PA in the postseason, giving way in left field against right-handers to rookie Andrew Toles.
During the season, Kendrick put up career lows on offense, hitting just .255/.326/.366, though general manager Farhan Zaidi addressed that on Tuesday at the GM meetings in Scottsdale, Ariz., per Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register:
"He got off to a slow start and there were some concerns, but by the end, the way he ended the season, that’s more what you would expect from the ebb and flow of a season," Zaidi said. "He had some great at-bats in the playoffs. That’s not a concern for us moving forward."
One year after he was hurt in a strong free agent market by being saddled with the qualifying offer draft pick cost, Kendrick’s value in trade could be helped this year by the relatively weak free agent market, which is probably the thrust of this trade speculation.
Kendrick has one year and $10 million remaining on his deal, with half of his 2017 salary deferred to Dec. 15, 2019. It makes sense for the Dodgers to at least explore what his market is, as a lower-cost alternative to Neil Walker, Luis Valbuena, et al.
This is an opportunity also to point out that we are still very early in the offseason, and that exploring trade options doesn’t necessarily mean a player will be traded. Lots of scenarios will be evaluated this offseason, some we might find out about and many others we will not. It is all part of the due diligence of the hot stove season.