There's just no stopping the Kennedys.
Okay, so admittedly, free agent infielder Adam Kennedy is not a known relation to the family of the same name that holds royal status in American history, but just one day after deceased Mass. Sen. Ted Kennedy's vacated seat was lost to the opposition party, Adam Kennedy found a way to keep the Kennedy name in the news.
According to Kennedy's agent, three teams are interested in the utility player, who is capable of playing anywhere (save shortstop) on the infield.
Two of these clubs, all of whom the representative declined to identify, offered Kennedy a starting job, while the other planned to use him in a "super-utility" role.
Although Washington is a viable candidate, Kennedy might prefer to take a reduced role in Chicago for the chance to play on a winning club. If he does, Chicago GM Jim Hendry may look to swoop in with an offer of roughly $3.5 million for a one-year contract. Kennedy, who made $4 million last season on a contract signed prior to 2007, will not make more anywhere on the market.
For his money, Hendry would be getting a seasoned 34-year-old veteran with a World Series ring (as a member of the 2002 Angels), a .330 career on-base percentage (.348 in 2009) and a left-handed bat, plus versatile infield defense. Kennedy would be only a modest upgrade over the incumbent in his role, Mike Fontenot, but Chicago might be able to get a decent return on Fontenot in trade if they can sign Kennedy to fill his shoes.
Last season with Oakland, Kennedy demonstrated his flexibility by playing over 400 innings at both second and third base. He also made cameo appearances at first base and in right field and hit in six different slots in the A's order.
As a lead-off hitter, he managed a .287/.341/.392 line, an unspectacular but acceptable series of numbers. In the second spot in the lineup, Kennedy was clearly more comfortable, batting .292/.370/.500 in 83 plate appearances. Since it is the second hole (between Kosuke Fukudome and Derrek Lee) in which Kennedy would fit best as a Cub, those figures are encouraging.
However, while he is a versatile defender, he is no longer as adept as he used to be. Once a candidate for a Gold Glove at second base, Kennedy fell short of an average defensive performance for just the second time in his ten-year career in 2009, according to fangraphs.com. Even at third base he struggled, although he had never played the position prior to last year, so he may be able to be excused on that charge.
All told, Chicago may be well-advised to stick with Fontenot's solid defense and hope his bat, which suffered in 2009, can rebound to 2008 levels. If a team comes nibbling on the diminutive Fontenot, however, Hendry has the option to pounce on a trade opportunity and fill the void with Kennedy.