The Arizona Diamondbacks have several players who have the ability to play second base, and they reportedly would like to move one of them in order to sign free agent Howie Kendrick, reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
The #Dbacks are active in trade talks trying to move a 2B, which could clear room to sign FA Howie Kendrick— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) January 21, 2016
Last year, the Diamondbacks second basemen combined to hit for a.220 average and a.266 on-base percentage – which were the worst numbers in the majors among second basemen. Arizona’s second basemen also ranked in the bottom half of the league 11 home runs, 60 RBIs, and 76 runs, though they finished sixth in the majors with 16 stolen bases.
Currently, the Diamondbacks’ options at second include Chris Owings, Aaron Hill, and Phil Gosselin, along with prospects Brandon Drury and Jack Reinheimer. Owings and Hill mainly manned the position last year with Owings playing 115 games while Hill appearing at second in 47 games. Cliff Pennington — who is now with the Los Angeles Angels after being traded to the Toronto Blue Jays — Gosselin, and Drury also saw time at second last season.
Owings got by far the most at bats of all D-Back second basemen with 397 at-bats. The 24-year-old, who also saw time at shortstop, hit.227 with four home runs and 43 RBIs along with a career best 15 stolen bases in 515 at-bats. He also committed four errors at second and five overall for a.990 fielding percentage.
— SB Nation MLB (@SBNationMLB) January 26, 2016
Owings has a career slash line of.243/.264/.322 to go along with 26 stolen bases in 31 attempts over three seasons. The former first round selection will be arbitration eligible next year but is not eligible to become a free agent until 2020.
Hill batted.230 with six homers along with 39 RBIs and seven stolen bases. The soon-to-be 34-year-old (March 21) committed two errors at second in 177 chances (.989 fielding percentage); he committed six errors overall last year. The veteran also saw action at third base.
Hill has struggled with his bat the past two seasons, compiling a slash line of just.238/.290/.359 since 2014 opening day. He is slated to make $12 million this upcoming season, which is the last year of the three-year, $35 million extension that he signed in 2013.
According to MLB Trade Rumors, Arizona would likely need to eat most of Hill’s remaining contract or take on a similarly undesirable contract to unload him in a deal.
Gosselin has seen limited time in the majors since being taken by the Atlanta Braves in the fifth round of the 2010 draft. The 27-year-old hit.311 and had a.500 slugging percentage overall last season in 44 games split between the Braves and D-backs. He hit.311 with three homers and 13 RBIs in 66 at-bats after Arizona acquired him in exchange for pitcher Bronson Arroyo and the team’s 2014 first round pick Tousi Toussaint.
Arizona general manager Dave Stewart is high on Gosselin for his bat. Stewart had this to say about the utility infielder, who also can play short, third, and left field.
“Our scouting reports liken him to (Justin) Turner in Los Angeles.” Not that same kind of power but possesses that same ability to hit and put the ball in the gaps.”
Drury, the D-backs’ No. 5 rated prospect according to MLB.com, hit.214 with two home runs and eight RBIs in 54 at-bats in 2015. The 23-year-old spent time with triple-A Reno and double-A Mobile prior to his cup of coffee with the D-backs, compiling a slash line of.303/.344/.412 in 130 games.
Reinheimer was acquired by Arizona as part of the package that Seattle sent for OF Mark Trumbo. The 23-year-old is currently ranked as the D-back 10th-best prospect and is expected to reach the majors sometime this year. He is a defensive-specialist with above-average speed, who can play shortstop as well as second.
Reinheimer, a former fifth round selection of the Mariners, spent time with Jackson and Mobile in 2015, hitting.270 with five home runs and 21 stolen bases. However, he struggled in the Arizona Fall League, batting.230 with zero homers and just one stolen base while also striking out 21 times 88 plate appearances.
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The 32-year-old Kendrick has struggled defensively but still swings a stellar bat. Kendrick hit.295 with nine home runs and 54 RBIs in 2015 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He has averaged the following stat lines over the past three years,.295/.340/.414 while averaging 10 home runs and 61 RBIs. Kendrick was with the Los Angeles Angels prior to last year.
FOX Sports MLB insider Ken Rosenthal has tweeted that there is some contention to whether the Diamondbacks should sign Kendrick as they would have to surrender another draft pick in the 2016 Amateur draft. Arizona already gave up the No. 13 pick as the result of signing Zack Greinke away from the Dodgers.
Sources: #DBacks still reluctant to give up second pick (currently No. 39) for Howie Kendrick. Believe Owings will bounce back offensively.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 21, 2016
If Arizona is determined not to give up another pick, the D-Backs do have an alternative and that is to sign free agent Ian Desmond instead. Desmond hit.233 with 19 home runs and 62 RBIs along with 13 stolen bases. The problem with signing Desmond would be similar to Kendrick and that is he is 30 years old and would cost the team a draft pick; however, another potential issue is that he is a shortstop who has only played five games at second.
[Photo by Ralph Freso/AP Images]