Should the Toronto Blue Jays Pursue Howie Kendrick?
It has been less than a week since the World Series ended and Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos has already made a flurry of moves. The most noteworthy move was the trade of Adam Lind for Milwaukee Brewers right-handed pitcher Marco Estrada.
August 4, 2013; Anaheim, CA, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Mark Buehrle (56) pitches in the sixth inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
By acquiring Estrada, the Blue Jays now have a variety of options and questions surrounding their potential rotation for next year. Among those questions is what Anthopoulos decides to do with veteran starting pitchers J.A. Happ and Mark Buehrle.
After picking up Happ’s $6.7 million option for next season, the trade rumours surrounding Happ’s future with Jays have resurfaced, as other teams are reportedly interested in the 32-year-old’s services. While Happ remains an intriguing trade candidate for opposing teams, another intriguing player – who is also in the final year of his contract this upcoming season – is Mark Buehrle.
Buehrle has made over 60 starts for the Blue Jays the past two seasons and has racked up over 200 innings pitched both year’s. But it is not Buehrle’s durability that is an issue. It is his age.
Buehrle will be 36 this spring training and is entering the final year of his contract that will pay him $19 million next season. Although Buehrle has been a steady fixture in the Blue Jays rotation, young arms like Aaron Sanchez, Marcus Stroman and Daniel Norris make Buehrle expendable, as he is not a long-term option for the team.
One team that looks to be an ideal trade partner for either Buehrle or Happ, is the Los Angeles Angels. The Halo’s could use another arm at the back-end of their rotation, as it was a glaring issue near the end of this season; especially after Garrett Richards was lost to a gruesome leg injury.
But what would the Angels be willing to give up in return?
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Well, according to Fox Sports Ken Rosenthal, the Angels are looking to shake up their infield in hopes of bolstering their starting rotation. Two names that are reportedly available are second basemen Howie Kendrick, and third basemen David Freese.
Both Kendrick and Freese would fill a hole for the Blue Jays at second or third base. Both players have expiring contracts, and both players would allow for Brett Lawrie to permanently reside at either third or second base.
From the Angels perspective, Kendrick looks to be the more likely trade candidate, as the team could replace him internally with Gordon Beckham or Grant Green, while Double-A prospect Alex Yarbrough continues to develop in the minor’s as the team’s long-term option. Meanwhile, replacing Freese at third base would be a more complicated matter.
Given those circumstances, Howie Kendrick seems like a great fit for both the Blue Jays and the Angels. Entering the final year of his deal at $9.5 million, Kendrick’s contract also represents a large enough salary that the Blue Jays could send the likes of Happ or Buehrle in return for Kendrick, while still being able to manage the financial kickback’s of the trade going forward.
Aside from a financial standpoint, Kendrick is a consistent offensive player that would fit nicely in the Blue Jays lineup. Over the past six seasons, Kendrick has played in 100 games or more every year, has hit over .270 every season, posted an on-base percentage of .310 or higher every season and has driven in 50 or more runs in each of those six season’s. Not bad numbers for any player.
Aug 3, 2013; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick throws to first base against the Toronto Blue Jays during the game at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Kendrick is also an above average defender, posting a .984 fielding percentage and a 6.7 UZR in 2014. His steady play on both sides of the ball earned him a 5.4 WAR rating, good for fourth among second basemen in the major league’s.
Providing consistent two-way play, a feasible expiring contract and filling a position of need make Kendrick a more than ideal candidate for the Toronto Blue Jays to target.
The one tricky part?
Could Kendrick scorn the Jays if a potential deal was reached?
Given the Blue Jays current roster, an aggressive off-season plan spearheaded by acquiring Howie Kendrick should be enough to convince him to come to Toronto – if he needs any convincing at all.
Pursuing Kendrick could solidify the Blue Jays infield for next year, filling a huge hole at second base, as well as give the team another offensive weapon. But most importantly, it does not place the Blue Jays in a vulnerable financial position either.
What do you think Blue Jays fans? Should the Blue Jays pursue a trade for Howie Kendrick? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.