Why the D-backs shouldn’t waver on signing Howie Kendrick

Howie Kendrick has hit .295/.340/.414 and averaged 10 home runs and 61 RBI per 162 games in the past three seasons.
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It’s a month until spring training and the only team that’s been consistently linked with free-agent second baseman Howie Kendrick is the Arizona Diamondbacks. But the D-backs are vacillating on whether or not to sign the solid infielder.

According to FOX Sports MLB insider Ken Rosenthal, the D-backs are uncertain if they want to sign Kendrick because it would require them to part ways with a draft pick, as Kendrick rejected a qualifying offer from the Los Angeles Dodgers.

After signing free agent Zack Greinke and parting ways with a haul of prospects to acquire Shelby Miller, Arizona has made loud and clear its plans to be a contender in the NL West in 2016.

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The D-backs already have a prolific offense and sturdy defense in place, which will likely make their off-season moves that significantly bolstered their starting rotation the puzzle piece that was missing in their winning formula in Phoenix.

However, while Arizona has a productive offense in place, it could use an offensive upgrade at second base, and Kendrick would fulfill that need.

After all, Kendrick is about as sure a bet as there is.

In the past three seasons, the former two of which were spent with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the latter of which was with the Dodgers, the 32-year-old infielder hit .295/.340/.414 while averaging 10 home runs and 61 RBI per 162 games.

Even more indicative of Kendrick’s reliability is that his batting average has remained within four one-thousandths of a percent over those seasons (2013: .297; 2014: .293; 2015: .295), nearly perfectly aligned with his career average of .293.

Above all, Kendrick is a solid fielder, and has the versatility to play first or third base or the outfield, as well, if need be.

Rosenthal notes in his report that that Arizona believes that current second baseman Chris Owings "will bounce back offensively," which would give them peace of mind if they pass on Kendrick.

However, the 24-year-old Owings has yet to prove himself as a consistent offensive producer in his two-plus years at the major-league level.

Owings hit .261 with 26 RBI in 91 games in 2014 and drove in 43 runs at a .227 clip in 147 games with the D-backs last season. He currently averages 46 RBI per 162 games in his big-league career.

Therefore, it wouldn’t be categorized as "bouncing back" if he had a good year at the plate in 2016 – it would be a new development.

The D-backs also have veteran infielder Aaron Hill as an option at second base, but unlike Kendrick, he has been on a steady decline since hitting .302 with 26 home runs and 85 RBI in his first full season in Arizona in 2012.

So, it seems a no-brainer that the D-backs, chugging full-speed at the upcoming season, should sign Kendrick.

He’s reliable in the field and at the plate, clutch (.360 with runners in scoring position last season), and would add needed veteran experience to a young team stuffed to the brim with budding superstar talent.

If losing a draft pick is the biggest obstacle between the D-backs and Kendrick, Rosenthal has an interesting perspective on the issue.

Arizona is wise to think big picture in its decision making.

Nevertheless, Howie Kendrick could add plenty of value to a team with hopes of being in contention.