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Yankees 2016 Potential Free Agent Target: Howie Kendrick

The 32-year-old second baseman had another good season in 2015. Still, he's not getting any younger. How long can he keep producing?

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

2015 Statistics: .295/.336/.409, 22 2B, 9 HR, 27 BB, 82 K, 109 wRC+, 495 PA

2016 Age: 32

Position: Second Base

A thorn in the Yankees' side for what feels like centuries, Howard Joseph Kendrick was dealt across town last winter—from the Angels to the Dodgers—in exchange for top pitching prospect Andrew Heaney. In 10 big league seasons, the consistently-productive righty owns a career .293/.333/.423 slash line with decent pop and speed. In every facet of the game, Kendrick is a solid player.

During his time in the American League, Kendrick demolished Yankee pitching. He's 77-for-225 lifetime against New York, good for a .342 batting average, his second-highest against any AL team. If he hit like he did against the Yankees all the time, I'd drive to California myself to chauffer him eastward.

2015 was another typical Kendrick season. Though he's getting older—he turned 32 in July—Howie was Kendrickian for the Dodgers. His batting average hovered near .300, his nine homers were right at his career average, and he hit righties and lefties equally well. However, leg injuries limited his season to 117 games, his fewest since 2009.

In a vacuum, Kendrick makes sense for the Yankees. He could fill second base full-time, bumping Dustin Ackley to the bench and freeing Rob Refsnyder to be used as deal sweetener. His compact right-handed swing would mesh excellently with the Yankees' left-handed power. On a short-term deal, Kendrick would plug a hole, or at least assuage an uncertainty.

However, it's likely Kendrick will command a higher salary than the Yankees would be willing to offer. Omar Infante received a 4-year, $30.25MM contract from the Royals two years ago and though they were both in their early 30s, Kendrick's track record is much more consistent than Infante's was. A better comp for Kendrick might be Martin Prado, who inked a 4-year, $40MM pact with Arizona before the 2013 season. That same winter, the D-Backs also signed Aaron Hill for 3 years, $35MM. Considering Kendrick is the best of the bunch, $10MM per year seems conservative. I'd peg Kendrick's starting price in the neighborhood of 4 years, $48MM and while he'll certainly help a team next year, I'd be hesitant to commit to the back end of that deal.

Interestingly, Kendrick will have a bit of competition on the free agent market. Postseason HeroTM Daniel Murphy is out there, as is über-utility man Ben Zobrist. Though Kendrick lacks the versatility of the others, he's three years younger than Zobrist and a better defender than the streaky Murphy. Pirates' mainstay Neil Walker might be on the trade block as well—he's recently been linked to the Baltimore Orioles.

At this point, Zobrist is Plan A for about two-thirds of the league. Only after he signs will we be able to gauge Kendrick's value. Plenty of teams are looking for second base help. In fact, Kendrick would nestle nicely into the lineups of both pennant winners—the Mets and the Royals. Another potential fit is the White Sox, who spent aggressively last winter. I wouldn't rule the Dodgers out, and a reunion with the Angels makes sense, too. Those poor fans in Anaheim spent 2015 watching Johnny Giavotella and Taylor Featherston fight over who has the longer name.

Howie Kendrick is a good player who is about to receive a sizeable contract. He would undoubtedly help the Yankees in 2016. However, youth is the front office's priority and Kendrick is on the wrong side of 30. Brian Cashman would probably be comfortable giving him more money than more years, so if he's willing to take a higher AAV for less years, the Yankees should be interested, otherwise he's a pass.