News! With a general doff of ye olde ballcap to the Phillies beat, we have learned that Kyle Kendrick will earn $3.585 million during the 2012 season. This was essentially a formality as Kendrick was not among those non-tendered at the December 12 deadline.
Kendrick earned $2.45 million last season when the two parties similarly avoided arbitration. The right-hander made 15 starts and 19 relief appearances, providing value as a swingman throughout the season. He finished the season with a 3.22 ERA, a career-low, including 3.14 as a starter and 3.41 as a reliever. He figures to work in the same role in 2012 with the Phillies’ rotation set in stone, barring some unforeseen news involving Joe Blanton.
That Kendrick was given $3.585 million shouldn’t surprise anyone as a result of his not being non-tendered. At the time, I argued that the Phillies should cut their ties with him. Since they didn’t, Kendrick’s salary is neither shocking nor cause for outrage. MLB Trade Rumors estimated Kendrick would earn $3.2 million if he were to go to arbitration, so the Phillies only overpaid by about $400,000, or roughly the Major League minimum salary. Meanwhile, the Phillies maintain a reliable back-up plan in the event of an injury or a change of scenery for Blanton, and they add one of their vaunted veterans to the bullpen.
In terms of raw skill, Kendrick leaves a lot to be desired. Between 2007-08 and ’10-11 (he spent most of ’09 in Triple-A), his lowest xFIP is 4.42. He doesn’t miss bats very often and he possesses no unique batted ball skills. In the event the Phillies limit his exposure to left-handed hitters, Kendrick’s numbers could be better (4.03 xFIP vs. RHB; 5.36 vs. LHB), but you simply don’t see ROOGYs in baseball, especially not on a Charlie Manuel-managed team. The Good Phight’s Taco Pal argues that Kendrick may have made a significant improvement last season, but we’ll need more data before we can make any strong conclusions. The most we can say at this point is that he is a below-average pitcher.
Overall, Kendrick’s salary won’t make much of a difference on the 2012 roster. While the Phillies will be nudging up against the luxury tax, Kendrick’s earnings will not make it any more difficult for the Phillies to get Cole Hamels signed to a multi-year extension. To use a cliche, it is what it is. The Phillies keep a reliable arm around at a slightly above-average rate relative to Kendrick’s skill level and the market. That’s just fine.
Michael Baumann will have more on this topic soon.