The Los Angeles Angels' starting infield could be due for a new look next season, as the Angels are expected to trade second baseman Howie Kendrick or third baseman David Freese this offseason, according to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal. The Angels are looking to shore up their rotation and left-handed relief crop, which likely makes the two 31-year-olds expendable. Both Kendrick and Freese are eligible for free agency following the 2015 season.
Kendrick has been a fixture in the Angels' lineup over the last nine years, and it would be somewhat odd to not see him standing alongside longtime double-play partner Erick Aybar every day. Per Rosenthal, Kendrick is the more likely to be traded between him and Freese, and while it would certainly represent a downgrade for the Angels, trade chatter surrounding Kendrick's name is nothing new. The past couple of years have heard plenty of rumors regarding the possibility of the Angels dealing Kendrick for pitching. In fact, the Angels and Dodgers nearly completed a rare swap between the two at the 2013 trade deadline, with pitching prospect Zach Lee supposedly heading up the return.
With a 108 OPS+ and 27.6 WAR for his career, Kendrick has been a consistently solid player, and he is coming off yet another All-Star caliber season, as he hit .293/.347/.397 with a 115 OPS+, 14 steals, and 5.4 WAR in 2014. He is set to make $9.5 million in 2015.
Rosenthal lists the Toronto Blue Jays, Washington Nationals, Miami Marlins, and Chicago White Sox as teams that could potentially pursue Kendrick to upgrade their keystone situations.
The Angels acquired Freese in last winter's trade of Peter Bourjos to the Cardinals. The 2011 postseason hero had a decent, albeit underwhelming, first season for the Angels. He hit .260/.321/.383 with a 103 OPS+ and 2.1 WAR in 134 games this year. He heated up following a rough start to the season, as he slashed .281/.343/.425 from June 1st through the end of the season, compared to just a .536 OPS in April and May. He is arbitration eligible for a final time this offseason.
In return, the Angels will seek to upgrade a pitching staff that has been thinned out by injuries. As it stands, the Halos are set to enter 2015 with a rotation comprised of Jered Weaver, CJ Wilson, Matt Shoemaker, Hector Santiago, and Cory Rasmus, all of whom come with significant question marks. Weaver's production has been in decline over the past three years. Wilson was nothing short of dismal in 2014. Shoemaker had an incredible season, but there has to be some concern over whether or not he can repeat his breakout performance. Santiago may be a better fit in the bullpen. And Rasmus has started all of six games at the major league level. Of course, the Angels should get Garrett Richards back at some point early in the season, which will clearly be a huge boost. Still, as demonstrated by their series sweep at the hands of the Royals earlier this month, the club could sorely use another high-end rotation option.
The Angels do have a pair of in-house replacements were Kendrick or Freese to be dealt. Gordon Beckham played well after coming over in an August trade with the White Sox, hitting for a 117 OPS+ in 61 plate appearances. While he is certainly below Kendrick's caliber, he could still be a serviceable option. Grant Green doesn't have much of a track record in the majors, but the 27-year-old could still grow into a big league regular.