Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Cincinnati Reds are interested in signing second baseman Howie Kendrick.

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.

27 Responses

  1. Steve Schoenbaechler

    The only thing I saw bad with Howie was his age. But, having never looked at his numbers, I can understand the interest. We need OBP guys. And, Howie can provide that apparently, at least until we can provide a plan B.

    I would still prefer bringing Senzel back into the IF. But, if we leave him out there, teach him how to play the wall. I can understand how some may like how Senzel goes “all out this and that”. However, that doesn’t help the team long term at all when he goes “all out” on one ball, runs into the wall badly, and ends up missing 4-8 weeks. I’d rather see him hold back on that ball in the first place and still be able to play that 4-8 weeks.

    Reply
    • jon

      you don’t think they have worked on his wall awareness? He has had tons of help from various former major leaguers.Eric davis for one.

      Reply
      • Steve Schoenbaechler

        And, yet, he still runs into the walls way too hard. Either they haven’t worked on it, or worked on it enough, or worked on it the wrong way.

  2. Tom Mills

    And a potential right handed bat at 1b. Versus lefties Votto had .656 OPS, Kendrick 1.036

    Reply
  3. Bob Purkey

    The only real issue with Kendrick is that he has been hurt an awful lot in the last 3-4 years. Beyond that, sign him up. . .2 years

    Reply
  4. Optimist

    How do you account for aging and injuries? Howie seems marginally better than Gennett or Dietrich, and more platoon-ready if it keeps JVM and the young OFers with better PAs. A very good niche pickup and intangibles and so forth, but still 2 big moves needed.

    Reply
      • Optimist

        Uninjured – who is better, Scooter, Dietrich or Howie? Howie, but by how much? Bob Purkey, above, noted Howie’s injury history – point being all three have been injured recently, but Howie is several years older.

        Tough to account for all that, but Howie’s still probably better than the others, overall.

      • Michael Smith

        @optimist

        2019 slash lines

        Kendrick
        344/395/572 for 966 ops, 142 ops plus

        Dietrich
        187/328/462 for 790 and 100 ops plus

        Gennett 2018
        310/357/490 for 847 ops and 125 ops plus.

        Despite injuries Kendrick has been the better hitter. Assuming its only 2 years I think he is well worth taking a shot at 6-7 million a year knowing you are getting roughly 400 abs a year from him.

      • Optimist

        400 ab/yr seems a bit high, unless he’s spread over the OF and 1b as well. Given how long it took to get Lorenzen in CF, I’m not confident they can strictly platoon him.

        They still need to see what all the younger players can do, and I’d go all the way to include Nay, and perhaps Siri, in that group.

        Still, at the right price he’s an easy signing.

  5. Klugo

    The Reds are interested in…everyone. Because guys like VanMeter haven’t gotten it done. Every position player not named Eugenio Suarez should be looking overhis shoulder, really.

    Reply
    • jon

      Suarez is the only one the Reds would get anything for in a trade. Move senzel to 3rd and reap the benefits of a suarez trade.

      Reply
      • TR

        Trade high but Suarez does not seem to be on the trade-radar of the FO or Reds fans.

      • Colorado Red

        Would have to get the farm for him.
        Cheap and controllable for several years, and a 4+ WAR Player.
        Hard to find.

      • TR

        But it could be a major key in ‘Going for it…’

    • Brady

      “Guys like VanMeter haven’t gotten it done” – come on, this is just silly. He was a 24 year old playing in his first MLB season after literally getting it done in AAA. I understand the hype isn’t there for VanMeter because he wasn’t a heralded prospect, but he needs a fair shot.

      Now Peraza, Barnhart, and Casali are another story, but I think that’s why you’re seeing interest in Gregorius and Grandal.

      Reply
      • Tom Mitsoff

        There are a lot of guys who get it done in Triple A who don’t in the bigs. It’s much too early to close the door on VanMeter, but I will be very disappointed if next season opens with him as a starting player. He had an OPS+ of 88, and the Reds don’t need any more of that.

  6. BK

    Glad they are checking into him, but he should be down the Reds list. Grandal, Moustakas, and perhaps Gregorius offer the best opportunities to increase WAR on the free agent market. Kendrick, would be an outstanding bench piece, but I would prefer to see the Reds address at least two of C, SS, 2B or CF before looking for a player like Kendrick that is very unlikely to be an everyday contributor.

    Reply
    • Jefferson Green

      Given that the Reds have a good 3B in Suarez and a young LH hitter in VanMeter for 2B (and other positions), Moustakas doesn’t feel much better for the team than Kendrick (even though he is a better all around, everyday player). I’d be happy with either.

      Reply
      • BK

        To me there are several important differences:

        – Moustakas is about 5 years younger than Kendrick
        – Moustakas is better defensively
        – Zips projects Moustakas to produce twice the WAR of Kendrick
        – Moustakas plays everyday and bats in the middle of the lineup, Kendrick is a bench piece

        If the Reds go into 2020 expecting VanMeter to carry the load and 2B and he is successful it will be a lucky bet. I’m a huge VanMeter fan, but his performance fell off quite a bit as the season progressed. If the Reds has a bigger budget, Kendrick would be a fantastic pick up. I just don’t think he’s got enough left in the tank to get the # of plate appearances to really move the needle for the Reds.

  7. Brady

    I wouldn’t mind this, as he certainly makes the roster better. He’s not coming unless there’s an overpay though, and I don’t know that you can do that if you’re the Reds until you know what’s going on with Grandal and Gregorius.

    That said, he’s a cheaper alternative to Moustakas so I can see why there would be some interest.

    Reply
    • Jefferson Green

      Why will it take an overpay to get Kendrick? Has he expressed a lack of interest here or a big interest elsewhere?

      Reply
  8. Redsfan4life

    Why would they be interested in him?
    Odds are he will not be a 900 plus OPS guy again at age 37.
    He is pretty much a DH at this point in his career.

    Reply
    • Michael Smith

      @redsfan4life,

      Odds are he will be an over 800 ops guy at a position of weakness for the reds. That is my guess on why they are interested. If scooter can play second, Howie can for the reds.

      Reply
    • Jefferson Green

      He was a significant part of winning a ring for a NL team, with a wRC+ of 146; if he dips to 125 it would still be a great add for the Reds. While not a good fielder, he can play some 2B and 1B and elsewhere.

      Reply
  9. Goat

    I bet you could sign Scooter for a fraction of the price and that Scooter would be a better all around player , but I doubt they are interested him because he had such a poor season being injured.
    Kendrick had his second most HR totals in his career at 36 years old and everyone thinks he will repeat it by offering an inflated contract.
    Personally, I would gamble on Gennett at a fraction of the cost and spend any extra money towards a #5 starter.
    People forget it’s been less than two years since Scooter was an all star and arguably the best player on their roster.
    Also, sign José Iglesias at a cost far less than Didi and use that extra money for Castellanos,Ozuna, or some else of that caliber.
    Trade Barnhart and sign Castro along with trading Winker for a decent middle reliever would be beneficial too.

    Reply

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