You know it’s been a rough season when one of the Phillies best players has missed more than six weeks and is the oldest hitter on the team. In the 32 games he has played in, however, Howie Kendrick is hitting .361/.418/.492 with 13 RBI and eight stolen bases.
This is exactly what General Manager Matt Klentak was hoping for when he acquired Kendrick in an offseason trade with the Dodgers. What he wasn’t hoping for was that the 33-year-old utility man would miss more than 40 of the first 75 games.
Going by just his numbers and how poorly the Phillies are playing, Kendrick would be a surefire trade piece for Klentak. Combine his age with his string of injuries this season, however, and the Phillies are going to have a hard time finding a possible suitor. Add in the fact that the team who would acquire Kendrick would only be renting him for two months and needs him to be healthy, the list gets even smaller.
Still, if Kendrick can avoid another DL stint with his current hamstring injury that has kept him out of the starting lineup since last Wednesday, Klentak might be able to unload him onto a team in need of a veteran utility guy. The return won’t be much – a low to mid-level prospect or two at best – but there are teams that could use a healthy Kendrick.
New York Yankees
Before Kendrick’s hamstring flared up last week, rumors that the Yankees were interested in him started to float around. It makes sense considering team’s latest string of injuries, including first baseman Greg Bird and outfielders Aaron Hicks and Jacoby Ellsbury. Kendrick’s ability to play both infield and outfield positions makes him a perfect fit, if he himself can stay healthy. After a torrid start, the Yankees have lost 9 of their last 12 and desperately need some help.
Boston Red Sox
Like their American League East rivals, the Red Sox can use some help in the infield. Third basemen Pablo Sandoval has struggled in 32 games played, hitting just .212/.269/.354. He missed nearly the whole month of May with a knee strain and is currently on the DL with an ear infection. Even when he heals, the Red Sox don’t seem too keen on giving him back his spot in the lineup. Boston recently signed infielder Jhonny Peralta to a minor league deal for some insurance and while Kendrick himself has been plagued with injuries, his numbers are far better than both Sandoval’s and Peralta’s.
St. Louis Cardinals
When the Phillies played the Cardinals earlier this month, they too were struggling. Now, the team is just 4.5 games behind the Brewers in the NL Central and the front office seems to not be giving up on the season, firing coaches as a wakeup call to both the players and manager Mike Matheny. The Cards, who currently sit at 26th in the league in runs scored, can use a guy like Kendrick with an .418 on-base percentage.
Kendrick fits the needs of almost any contending team – a professional hitter who can play multiple spots in the field and provide the veteran presence needed down the stretch. If Kendrick can manage to get back on the field for at least a few more weeks, Klentak will have his options.