Howie Kendrick never drove in 100 runs, never hit 20 homers in a season, never stole more than 14 bases in a single year, and never finished higher than 18th in MVP voting in any of his 15 campaigns.
So while Kendrick’s decision to retire on Monday won’t begin a path to Cooperstown, it’s still a career worth celebrating.
In his time with the Angels, Dodgers, Phillies and Nationals; Kendrick slashed .294/.337/.430, with 127 homers and 126 steals. A former top prospect, the right-handed hitter seemed to smack a line drive in every at-bat, and he had six seasons with an average in the .300s with another four that saw him hit above .290. While he was never an elite power hitter or anything close, he helped compensate with solid steal totals, and his 10-to-15 roundtrippers played well when he was at the keystone.
Kendrick’s best season was actually his penultimate campaign. In 2019 with the Nationals as a 35-year-old, he slashed .344/.395/.572 with 17 homers and 62 RBI while leading Washington to a postseason berth. Those playoffs were an up-and-down adventure, but fans of the Nats won’t remember the down. Kendrick hit .333/.412/.600 in the NLCS, and in Game 7 of the World Series, his two-run homer in the seventh off of Will Harris with Juan Soto on base erased a 2-1 deficit and ultimately gave Washington its first ever championship.
As for the 2021 impact, it seemed likely that Kendrick would have gotten a look as the 2021 designated hitter for the Nationals, but that position may not exist. The Nationals will likely look to add a hitter who can play on the infield to replace the 37-year-old’s production -- maybe a step above if there is a universal DH for this campaign.
It’d be nice if we could lead off these posts with a free agent signing or trade, but that’s not happening right now. Instead, pay some respect to Kendrick; one of the most underrated hitters of the past decade-plus.
Passan: Mets, Blue Jays favorites to sign Springer
It’s impossible to overstate how slow the free agent market is, and it really doesn’t seem like that’s changing anytime soon. Hopefully this is a jinx that causes a plethora of moves this week, but don’t hold your breath.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan often provides interesting news, and he dropped an interesting tidbit on Monday afternoon. Passan noted the two favorites to sign free agent outfielder George Springer at this point are the Mets and the Blue Jays.
This may seem a bit like an “obvious point is obvious” scenario, but, it’s still worth repeating. Springer fits any lineup, but it’s easy to see him hitting at or near the top of the lineup in both markets. The Mets have a need in center, and he is still a solid defender in the outfield at the age of 31. New York’s lineup is also a bit lefty-dominant, and while you can question how much that actually matters, a little bit of balance in that regard doesn’t seem like a bad thing, anyway.
As for the Blue Jays, Toronto doesn’t seem to be hurting for a starter in center, but there’s nothing engrained at the position, either. Randal Grichuk has spent most of his time there and has shown impressive power, but also owns a career on-base percentage of .295 and gets below-average grades as a defender. Making him the fourth outfielder and letting Springer hit at the top of what is already an exciting lineup would make the Blue Jays one of the favorites for a playoff spot.
Lots of things could change, but right now, it seems likely Springer signs with one of those two clubs. Just don’t be surprised if it takes a long time.
Adell likely to start season in the minors
There are several reasons why, but if you were going to grade Jo Adell’s time with the Angels in 2020, it’d be hard to give him a passing grade. Considered one of the upper-echelon prospects in the sport, he hit just .161 with a .478 OPS, and he had a 55/7 K/BB ratio which is only good if he was pitching. He was not. Over the weekend, Angels manager Joe Maddon opined on Adell, and said the expected: the outfielder needs more time in the minors.
“He needs a normal pattern next year to get himself rolling," Maddon said. "But this guy is ultra talented. He has a lot of great things going for him. He needs a normal year to get his feet back underneath him."
Obviously, this hurts Adell’s value for 2021. While some of this could be service-time related, there’s also denying that the 21-year-old looked lost for most of the shortened campaign; small that sample may be. The Angels will want to see some success in the minors before they give him a chance to be an everyday player. Long-term, there’s still an awful lot to like about his prognosis. This is still a hitter with above-average tools across the board -- some of those tools get 70-grades on the 20-80 scouting scale -- and we’ve seen plenty of young players struggle in their first taste of MLB action only to have productive careers. The centerfielder for the Angels is a pretty good example of that.
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Quick Hits: Robert Murray of FanSided reports that the Padres have interest in trading for Sonny Gray … Tigers pitching prospect Alex Faedo will undergo Tommy John surgery later this month … MLB Network's Jon Heyman reports the Nationals have interest in free agent catcher J.T. Realmuto … Bob Klapisch of NJ Advance Media reports that DJ LeMahieu's asking price in contract talks with the Yankees has been five years and $125 million … Heyman reports that the Padres and Royals are among the clubs interested in Jurickson Profar … A judge in Maricopa County, Arizona has accepted White Sox manager Tony La Russa’s guilty plea for reckless driving … Mariners designated INF/OF Tim Lopes for assignment. It clears room on the 40-man roster for the signing of RHP Chris Flexen … Cubs signed LHP DJ Snelten to a minor league contract … Angels signed LHP Thomas Pannone to a minor league contract … Padres signed RHP Nabil Crismatt to a minor league contract … Mariners signed RHP Drew Steckenrider to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training … Multiple outlets report that the Doosan Bears in the Korea Baseball Organization are close to a deal with RHP Walker Lockett of the Toronto Blue Jays ... Roberto Ramos has officially re-signed with the LG Twins of the Korea Baseball Organization ... Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that the Royals have expressed interest in free agent starter Adam Wainwright.