MMO Free Agent Profile: Howie Kendrick, IF/OF

Howie Kendrick

Position: Utility IF/OF

Bats: Right – Throws: Right
Born: July 12, 1983 (Age 34)

Traditional Stats: 40 R, 96 H, 16 2B, 3 3B, 9 HR, 41 RBI, 12 SB, 5 CS, .315/.368/.475
Advanced Stats:
1.4 bWAR, 1.6 fWAR, 119 OPS+, 121 wRC+
Fielding Stats:
1B (0 DRS, 0.2 UZR), 2B (1 DRS, 0.1 UZR), LF (-4 DRS, -0.8 UZR), RF (0 DRS, 0.2 UZR)

After a good 2015 season, Howie Kendrick found himself a free agent with little interest. The main reason there was little interest was because the Dodgers gave Kendrick a qualifying offer. Even with the Dodgers having already signed Chase Utley, the team also brought back Kendrick on a two-year deal.

Due to the presence of Utley, and various problems with the Dodgers left fielders, Kendrick mostly found himself splitting time between second and left field. For the first time in his career, he wasn’t the everyday second baseman, and he struggled posting career lows in batting average, slugging percentage, OPS+, and bWAR.

After a season like that, the Dodgers traded him to the Phillies in what was essentially a salary dump for the team. It would be a mixed season for Kendrick.

Playing most of the season at a more hitter friendly Citizens Bank Park, Kendrick was rejuvenated at the plate. It was more than that. He posted career highs in OBP and SLG.  However, offsetting what was a bounce-back season at the plate was having an injury plagued year.

He would have two separate trips to the disabled list. First, he injured his oblique when diving for a ball in the outfield. After a lengthy stint on the DL, he landed back on the DL with a strained left hamstring. Between those two stints, he was limited to just 39 games in about four months with the Phillies.

Seeking depth for the postseason, the Nationals acquired Kendrick at the trade deadline. A banged up Nationals team would play him nearly everyday, albeit not always as a starter and not always at the same position.

During the stretch run of the season, Kendrick would show his success in limited appearances with the Phillies was not due solely to Citizens Bank Park. In 52 games with the Nationals, he would hit .293/.343/.494 with eight doubles, two triples, seven homers, and 25 RBI.

Overall, Kendrick showed he can still hit. More than that, he showed he can capably handle first, second, and the outfield. The real question with him now is whether he still sees himself as an everyday player or whether he’s willing to accept a diminished role.

Contract:

It’s always difficult to ascertain the values of players past their prime who really don’t have defined roles. Looking at last year’s free agent market, Aaron Hill didn’t get more than a minor league deal.  Kelly Johnson didn’t sign with a team.  Although slightly younger, Sean Rodriguez received a two year $11.5 million contract.  Due to his name value and a productive season, Kendrick could receive similar value per year to Rodriguez. Due to his age, he may not receive more than a one-year deal.

Recommendation:

Keeping in mind the Mets are building a complete roster, the Mets should have interest in Kendrick. He’s a professional hitter who can capably fill-in at second base and the outfield. He should also be able to capably fill-in at first and third if needed. If history is any judge, the Mets will need that help.

In his tenure with the Mets, Yoenis Cespedes has yet to play a full season. At this moment, the Mets do not know when Michael Conforto will be able to play again or return to form.  Speaking of injury issues, the Mets bench is no different.  Wilmer Flores has had issues staying on the field, and T.J. Rivera is coming off Tommy John surgery.  Long story short, the Mets need bodies, and they need quality ones.

Despite an injury plagued year, Kendrick has typically been healthy in his career. To that end, he may be exactly what the Mets need this offseason. That goes double when you consider he has a reputation for being a good clubhouse presence. That is certainly something the Mets need seeing how the reports how their clubhouse had issues after leaders like Curtis Granderson were traded.

While, Kendrick is not the type of player you rush out to sign, it is certainly one the Mets need to consider. They need leadership, and they need versatile players.  With any luck, he could become this generation’s version of Jose Valentin.

About John Sheridan 449 Articles

John was raised to be a Mets fan by birth, and now he is raising a Mets fan of his own. He also uses Sabermetrics to either confirm the proverbial eye test or to see if we’re seeing things with Mets colored glasses. He looks forward to bringing this perspective to MMO. His work, including the tales of raising his son a Mets fan, can also be seen at MetsDaddy.com.