Red Sox Contact DeRosa, Kennedy
|12.02.09 at 12:23 pm ET|
According to baseball sources, the Red Sox continue their aggressive explorations of the infield market.
The Sox are one of five or six teams that has expressed interest in the versatile Adam Kennedy, who spent last year with the Oakland Athletics, hitting .289 with a .348 OBP, .758 OPS and 11 homers and 20 steals in the 33-year-old’s best season since 2005. (News of the contact with Kennedy was first reported by the Boston Herald.) Interest in Kennedy has been either as a second baseman or as a utility player who can play around the infield and in corner outfield spots. As a left-handed hitter with an opposite field stroke, Kennedy would seem to have a swing with a Fenway affinity, a notion backed by his career .395 average, .438 OBP and 1.061 OPS in 161 career plate appearances in Boston.
In 2009, Kennedy spent 82 games at third base and 50 at second. According to UZR/150 (Ultimate Zone Rating over 150 games, a statistic on Fangraphs.com that measures how many runs a player saves with his defense compared to an average fielder at a position), though Kennedy rated as having been -14.8 runs per 150 games over a small sample at second last year, he has been a well above-average fielder at second base throughout his career. His third-base defense last year also graded poorly. The John Dewan Plus/Minus ratings told a similar story, suggesting that Kennedy made 10 fewer plays than the average second baseman and seven fewer plays than the average third baseman in 2009, but that in each of the previous five years, Kennedy had been average to well above average at second base.
Conversations between Kennedy and the Red Sox were characterized as preliminary, with no formal offer as part of the expression of interest. He concluded a three-year, $10 million deal this year. Kennedy would likely seem a better fit for the Sox if the team did have second baseman Dustin Pedroia move to shortstop. He is believed to be a less expensive alternative to the other top second basemen (Orlando Hudson, Placido Polanco, Felipe Lopez) on the market.
The Sox also expressed preliminary interest in similarly versatile infielder Mark DeRosa, who spent 2009 with the Indians and Cardinals. DeRosa, who received an arbitration offer from St. Louis as a Type B free agent (meaning that if another team signs him, there would be no draft-pick compensation involved), saw his average (.250) and OBP (.319) fall to four-year lows, though he hit a career high 23 homers. The average and OBP declines can be explained partially by bad luck on batting average on balls in play (his .282 BABIP was well below his career norm of .311), though his strikeout rate went up and his walk rate declined by notable amounts.
The 34-year-old was primarily a third baseman for the Cards and Indians in 2009, grading as below average in both Plus/Minus (-12 plays) and UZR/150 (-8.7 runs/150 games) at the position. He also spent time at first and second bases and in left and right fields. He was primarily a second baseman in 2008, however, when he graded as below average (-15.9 UZR/150, -8 Plus/Minus).
At this point, one talent evaluator described him as better suited for the corners; if the Sox agree, then DeRosa would more likely be considered an alternative to Mike Lowell or Casey Kotchman should the Sox elect to part with either, rather than as an everyday second baseman who would allow Pedroia to move to short.
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