Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Cincinnati Reds are interested in signing second baseman Howie Kendrick.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 10, 2019
This news shouldn’t be terribly surprising. The Reds are looking at middle infielders and Howie Kendrick is a free agent coming off of a strong season with the Washington Nationals. Heck, he’s coming off of three straight strong years with the Nationals (and Phillies for the first half of 2017), hitting .315, .303, and .344 in the last three seasons in limited playing time. This year he racked up 370 plate appearances and hit .344/.395/.572 in his 121 games played.
Howie Kendrick isn’t young – he’ll turn 37-years-old in July. But His three best seasons by OPS have all come in the last three years. Of course, the last three years are also three years in which he hasn’t been an every day player, either. Some of that has been due to injuries, but he last played a full season in 2016 with the Dodgers.
Kendrick is likely going to be getting a raise in free agency. He only made $4M in 2019. MLB Trade Rumors predicted last week that he would sign a 2-year deal worth $12M. Kiley McDaniel predicted 2-years and $14M over at Fangraphs. At either of those prices, assuming they are right, it makes tons of sense for the Reds to see if they can make it happen.
The Reds probably shouldn’t expect him to play every day. But they wouldn’t need him to, either. Josh VanMeter could handle second base on some days, and play around the field on some of the other days, too. Kendrick has a Steamer Projection for .299/.354/.479 – and that would most certainly help the offense that needs some improvement from where it was in 2019.
It’s still early – free agency hasn’t even been open for a week – but it’s good to hear the Reds name already out there and being interested in guys who performed last season. Add Kendrick to the list with catcher Yasmani Grandal and shortstop Didi Gregorius and the stove is at least warm for Cincinnati early on. That’s a different kind of feeling in early November for the Reds.