Should the Phillies Keep Kyle Kendrick Around in 2014?

Kyle Kendrick got knocked around by the Cubs yesterday, the third consecutive start in which he has allowed four or more runs — the sixth such occurrence in his last seven starts. His ERA is up to 4.51, reminiscent of the Kendrick we saw in 2008 and 2010, not in the second half of last season and the first two months of this season.

Kendrick is eligible for his fourth and final year of arbitration after the season, as he will have completed his two-year, $7.5 million contract extension signed in February 2012. Despite the lackluster performance this season, Kendrick would still be in line for a slight raise on 2013′s $4.5 million salary, somewhere in the neighborhood of $5-6 million. The obvious question then must be asked: should the Phillies keep Kendrick around in 2014?

The Phillies will have the option of tendering John Lannan a contract — assuming he is healthy — which would cost around $3 million. They will also have Jonathan Pettibone to go along with aces Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee. Other options include bringing Roy Halladay back on a one-year, incentive-laden contract, giving Adam Morgan a spot if he performs well as a spring training invitee, shopping around for a free agent pitcher, and outright giving a spot to the recently-officially-signed Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez.

In the position the Phillies are in, having mostly interchangeable parts behind their two lefty aces, depth is paramount. The rigors of a 162-game season have called on nine different pitchers to start at least once for the Phillies this season. A better example, though, would be the Los Angeles Dodgers. They went into the season with three too many pitchers, prompting rumors of hurried trades made just before the start of the season involving Ted Lilly and Chris Capuano. It turns out that they needed every single one of their pitchers and then some.

Kendrick has been worth 1.1 Wins Above Replacement this season, his lowest since 2010, according to Baseball Reference. On the free agent market, 1.1 WAR would cost slightly more than $5 million, which also just happens to be what Kendrick will likely make in arbitration. So not only would he be paid essentially what he is worth, but he would provide the Phillies rotation depth at the bare minimum. As Kendrick has shown as recently as May, he can be an above-average starter as well.

As presently constructed, and being realistic about the types of moves they can and will likely make after the next few months, the Phillies don’t portend to be anything more than a .500 team. Keeping Kendrick around at a relatively cheap price would allow the Phillies to use him as a trade chip before the July 31 deadline. Non-tendering him would net the Phillies nothing and they would just reinvest that $5-6 million elsewhere, whereas paying him to avoid arbitration might return a useful prospect or two to a contending team next summer.

Furthermore, having Kendrick around gives the Phillies the luxury of progressing Adam Morgan (and Jesse Biddle, for that matter) at the pace they would prefer. Consider that the Phillies likely had no intention of using Pettibone and Ethan Martin as heavily as they have this year.

The only reason one would want to actively push Kendrick out of the picture is if the Phillies were harboring a rotation full of aces the way they were in 2011, but that will not be the case. Kendrick would not be taking innings away from anybody else and his salary won’t prohibit GM Ruben Amaro from making other transactions. Kendrick has certainly been frustrating to watch lately, but that is no reason to kick him to the curb when he still provides value to the team.

Leave a Reply

*

57 comments

  1. hk

    September 04, 2013 12:37 PM

    Pencilfish,

    Of course, the team has until November to make these decisions and we all reserve the right to change our opinions between now and then. Based on what’s known and what I see, I would sooner have KK than Halladay. I hope that Doc is able to pitch better between now and the end of the season, but until he does, I think KK and Pettibone > Doc and Pettibone.

    The team having money to spend on a SP doesn’t change this opinion. Even if they trade for a #4 SP or sign one in free agency, based on what we know and see right now, I would rather they go with KK and Pettibone as #5 and #6 than go with Doc.

  2. DARK STAR

    September 04, 2013 02:11 PM

    It would be a mistake to keep KK even as a 5th starter.

  3. Simmons17

    September 04, 2013 02:13 PM

    I also said this in the 40-man roster thread. I think it is time to cut the cord with Kendrick (unless the health situations of Halladay and Pettibone both prove to be untenable.) I have long been a fan of Kendrick, thinking he was a useful, inexpensive utility pitcher but those days are gone.
    I’ve been wondering if the Phils could package Kendrick and Bastardo somewhere before arbitration decisions have to be made. That could give them some flexibility and net something useful in return.

  4. Pencilfish

    September 05, 2013 11:45 AM

    hk,

    It’s not just a matter of whether Halladay pitches better. One also needs to ask if KK’s late 2012-June 2013 performance and his July 2013-present performance represent two extremes within which KK is expected to perform in 2014 (and beyond). The current KK may be what we get going forward.

    In my view, the overabundance of #5 SP in the system (and available in FA) makes KK expendable. What if we chose to spend $5M to get a FA #5 SP? We can use KK to trade for something else we can’t get in FA or in the minors, ie, a BP piece that can help next year.

  5. hk

    September 05, 2013 01:46 PM

    Pencilfish,

    If there are free agent SP’s who can be had for $5M and who are better than KK, why would a team trade anything of value to the Phillies for KK and the right to pay him $5M+ when they could sign one of those free agent themselves?

  6. Bill

    September 10, 2013 06:24 AM

    I grew up with Kyle Kendrick. He’s a decent guy, works hard and treats people pretty well. He isn’t the greatest pitcher, but he seems to be as average as a player can be. And as such, he’s been paid at or below league average salaries. Yet all I see when I look up posts on Kyle are commenters ripping him apart for being an average major league starting pitcher who is compensated fairly. Good lord. Calm down. You had Joe Blanton doing the same things Kendrick does now, but Fat Joe was paid $9 million a year to do it. I can’t wait until you people get your wish of Kyle leaving Philly, so he no longer has this strange mob of morbid “fans” writing snarky nonsense on the internet.

  7. Phillie697

    September 11, 2013 09:54 AM

    If only we could all get and hold a job just for being a nice guy instead of being good at our jobs. And if overpaying a guy is a rationale to overpay someone else, everyone on the Phillies should make $25M per because that’s how much Ryan Howard makes.

Next ArticleCarlos Ruiz Is Back on Track