It's January 26th, and Howie Kendrick is still a free agent. He wasn't the best second baseman on the open market this offseason, but for the past five seasons, he's posted an above average wRC+, and an average fWAR of 3.48. He's not a player that will put a team over the top, but he's a stabilizing force that can help lengthen a lineup.
His subpar defense, and the qualifying offer that's attached to Kendrick have undoubtedly slowed, if not halted his market, but there are two teams that should fork over some money and a draft pick to secure the second baseman.
The Diamondbacks have made two huge moves this offseason, which signaled that they're serious about contending for the playoffs now. By signing Zack Greinke, and trading for Shelby Miller, they've dramatically reshaped their starting rotation, and put themselves in the conversation for whom will win the NL West.
With Greinke, Miller, Patrick Corbin, A.J. Pollock, and Paul Goldschmidt, the Diamondbacks have a core that can compete with almost any team in the majors; however their (lack of) depth at second base is concerning. As of now, Arizona would use a combination of Chris Owings, Aaron Hill, and Phil Gosselin at 2nd; none of whom are projected for any real value.
According to Steamer, and recent history, Kendrick would represent a significant upgrade over what Arizona's current second basemen are projected for (almost exactly two wins). While Hill is owed $12 million for the 2016 season, the Diamondbacks have already committed themselves to fielding a winning team, and with a lucrative TV deal in their back pockets, they should spend on Kendrick.
The biggest roadblock seems to be that Dave Stewart doesn't want to forfeit another draft pick.
"We're not going to give up the pick. It's just tough after we've already given up our first pick. To give up our top two picks, that would be difficult for us to do."
While it's easy to understand Stewart's thought process here, it simply doesn't make sense, especially given his history. Since becoming GM of the Diamondbacks, Stewart has traded away three of Arizona's last four first round picks, and after parting with their 2016 first rounder for Greinke, giving up a competitive balance pick should be an afterthought. The Diamondbacks have fully committed themselves to winning now, and signing Kendrick would help accomplish that goal.
Los Angeles Angels
The Angels have had a good offseason, but nothing spectacular. By trading for Yunel Escobar and Andrelton Simmons, Anaheim has upgraded their infield offensively and defensively, but they could still do more. As of now, the Angels are set to send out Johnny Giavotella, Rey Navarro, and Ronald Torreyes for second base duties.
Just as with the Diamondbacks, that trio isn't projected for much value at all.
*Torreyes was only projected for one plate appearance, which is why he's not included in this table.
Anaheim's situation isn't as terrible as Arizona's, but Kendrick still comes out ahead on every offensive metric. The Angels would likely be reluctant to part with their first round pick for Kendrick, but if they want to compete for a playoff spot in 2016, and are unwilling to sign Dexter Fowler, then bringing back their former second baseman is the next best option.