The Tigers have too many good pitchers. The Los Angeles Angels don't have enough good pitchers. The Tigers need a second baseman. The Angels have a good second baseman. Jon Morosi of Fox Sports put two and two together yesterday, though was quick to point out that this was not an actual rumor.
Interesting trade speculation from follower @HBMike27: Doug Fister for Howie Kendrick. (I have not heard this, but it makes sense.)— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 13, 2013
Whatever, we're going with it.
Who is he?
Kendrick is a 30 year old Floridian who was a 10th round pick of the Los Angeles Angels back in 2002. He debuted with the Angels in 2006, posting a .730 OPS in 283 plate appearances that season. He has been remarkably consistent ever since, though has only played over 150 games in one season. However, he has only been on the disabled list twice since 2008. His worst year of his career was in 2010, when he posted a 98 wRC+ and .316 wOBA in 158 games. He bounced back from that year with a monster 2011, hitting .285/.338/.464 with 18 homers and a .349 wOBA in 140 games.
Why should we care?
This could go either way, but there doesn't seem to be any "boom or bust" potential with Kendrick. His highest and lowest career OPS figures are just 81 points apart, while his highest and lowest on-base percentages are just 25 points apart. What you see is what you get. For a guy getting paid a scratch under $10 million for each of the next two seasons, that's not too bad.
Compared to Omar Infante -- because that's what everyone is going to ask about here -- Kendrick is the better player. Kendrick's career low .721 OPS is Infante's career average, and both seem to be about league average defensively. Both have had career years within the last three seasons, though Kendrick's was slightly better on both sides of the ball.
Why should we stay away?
You can play with the numbers a bit, but long story short: Omar Infante could be re-signed and provide similar production. In this case, the Tigers would not be forced to part with a starting pitcher, and could either (a) use said pitcher to fill a different hole on the roster, or (b) keep the beastly 2013 rotation intact for another season.
In picking apart Kendrick's numbers, it seems that he is starting to decline defensively. This could be two separate one-year anomalies -- his 2011 numbers were uncharacteristically awesome, and he has had a down year before too (2010) -- but Kendrick also turned 30 this season. Either way, he's still roughly a league average second baseman defensively. Offensively, he doesn't walk much. But hey, neither does Omar Infante.
Will he end up in Detroit?
This hypothetical move makes a lot of sense for both teams, depending on how the Angels project Grant Green's abilities. Kendrick has been a very consistent and productive player throughout his career, even if his monster 2011 season does prop up his overall numbers just a bit. Is it worth giving up one of either Doug Fister or Rick Porcello? That largely depends on whether Drew Smyly can capably fill that hole in the rotation. The Tigers could do much worse, though.
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