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Diamondbacks Having Internal Discussions About 2B Howie Kendrick

With a clear need to upgrade the 2B position, the Diamondbacks are looking at a top free agent.

Jayne-Kamin Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Diamondbacks started the offseason with a bang, signing Zack Greinke away from the Dodgers and then sending over a ton of talent to the Braves for Shelby Miller. It's been quiet ever since, partially due to the fact they're near their payroll limit already. The team still has a net negative value at the 2B position between Chris Owings and Aaron Hill. With Jamie Westbrook likely a season and a half away at the minimum, the Dbacks could bank on Owings and Hill be a net zero value. The Diamondbacks do have an in-house options at the position with top prospect Brandon Drury, who is a converted 3B.

If the Diamondbacks want to go the free agent route, there is Howie Kendrick. Right now, the organization is discussing whether to sign him or not. Kendrick is a proven option and is definitely an upgrade over Owings and Hill. However, the Diamondbacks will forfeit the 40th pick in the draft to sign him. The move from Los Angeles to Phoenix should help Kendrick at the plate since Chase Field is heaven for gap hitters. There should be an uptick in his offense, assuming no major decline in his bat. Kendrick will be 32 in 2016, so you have to be on the lookout for that.

This is the 3-year snapshot of Kendrick's productivity:

2013 29 513 118 117 .142 0.1 3.5 3.4 2.6
2014 30 674 116 115 .104 1.4 4.4 5.3 4.7
2015 31 495 107 109 .114 -1.0 2.4 1.1 2.1

*Stats from Fangraphs and Baseball Reference

In terms of a free agent contract, the Diamondbacks should not go for more than 3 years if they do sign him. I believe Chase Field will lead to a larger ISO number since it will lead to more doubles with the deep gaps in center. Since OPS+ and wRC+ are league adjusted metrics, the Diamondbacks will be getting a above average hitter for the first year of that deal. I do expect decline with age, so he'll go from a 2.5 WAR/600 PA player to about 1.5 by year three, assuming a 0.5 WAR/600 PA decline. That adds up to a max of 6.0 WAR. I'm assuming that position player WAR is worth $7M in the free agent market. That adds up to a 3/$42M deal for the Diamondbacks. In my opinion, they should not go above $45M to sign him.

Honestly, I'm not in favor of a move like this but I do understand the motivation behind it. I'd rather give Brandon Drury a shot at getting the job, because I believe he will outproduce Chris Owings, Aaron Hill, and Phil Gosselin. I'm not confident he can outproduce Kendrick in 2016. However, long term he's a better option since he's only 23. If Drury's bat doesn't deliver, then the team should look for an upgrade on the trade market.