Up front: yup, it’s a little unusual to be discussing, in early July, a team in contention’s possible plans for after the season. But interesting things are interesting things.
In his latest column on a variety of topics, Ken Rosenthal notes that sources tell him the Cubs are “expected to consider” free-agent-to-be Howie Kendrick in the offseason. To be fair, the Cubs will probably consider almost anybody, but it seems Rosenthal’s heard something a little more specific than that.
I don’t want to get into a whole thing about Kendrick right now – because, again, it’s early July, and the more pressing rumors are the ones about how the Cubs will better themselves before July 31 – but it was too specific and too interesting not to share.
While it may seem, at first, like a strange fit for the Cubs to be adding another infielder in free agency, it’s not too hard to see how Kendrick could be one of many options that would work for the Cubs. Imagine a scenario where the Cubs part with Starlin Castro after the season, or decide to move him or Javier Baez to third base, opening up shortstop for Addison Russell. Kris Bryant would, in that scenario, move to the outfield, taking a spot where the Cubs could otherwise add a bat externally. Second base would then be opened up for a guy like Kendrick.
Kendrick, who turns 32 this weekend, is in the midst of his fifth consecutive very good, but not overwhelmingly good, offensive season (.297/.348/.428, 120 wRC+). This is the first year of his career, however, where he’s rated below average defensively (we’ll see if that holds).
We’ll see if anything ever comes of this, though it’s interesting as part of the broader discussion about how the Cubs will manage their young players and their offense after this season. Adding a guy like Kendrick is a creative way to get there. Of course, he’s going to cost a whole lot of money – I’m not sure the Cubs will have payroll to make more than one significant addition, and it sure seems like the rotation is going to be the focus there – and he’ll also get a qualifying offer from the Dodgers (meaning he’ll cost the Cubs their first rounder to sign).
Also, I suppose it’s fair to point out that, given the relationship between what the Cubs do this month and what they’ll be able to do (or want to do) after the season, maybe it’s not too early to consider things like this. I’m sure the Cubs’ front office considers these kinds of things years in advance – various scenarios and possibilities and what-have-you.