One of the worst kept secrets of Jim Hendry’s tenure as the general manager of the Chicago Cubs is his lust for outfielder Austin Kearns. Hendry repeatedly – and publicly – tried to acquire the then young stud from the Cincinnati Reds, only to be rebuffed by outrageous return demands.
Then, Kearns production fell off a bit, and he was more actively shopped. Again, Hendry pursued, only to find that the Washington Nationals had offered the Reds a more palatable proposition, and Kearns headed east. Still, Hendry was not sated, and occasional rumors involving the Cubs, Nationals, and Kearns popped up from time to time.
Well the Nationals just declined a $10 million (ha) option on Kearns, and he is now a free agent. So now we’ll see, does Hendry still desire Kearns?
The 29-year-old Kearns hit only .195 with three homers and 17 RBIs in 174 at-bats this season, when he was hampered by a thumb problem. Elbow and foot injuries limited Kearns to 86 games in 2008, when he batted .217 with seven homers and 32 RBIs.
In 2007, his only full season in Washington, Kearns hit .266 with 16 homers and 74 RBIs. ESPN.
Kearns can be viewed as no more than a bench bat at this point, possibly with hopeful upside. He has always hit when a starter, but he hasn’t been a starter since 2007, when, as pointed out in the article above, he was merely adequate.
If the Cubs believe Jake Fox and Micah Hoffpauir are good enough hitters to keep on the big club, and believe the pair can handle corner outfield backup duties, then a guy like Kearns is an unlikely target.