Kendall was a .300 hitter in the National League.
Jason Kendall's two-and-a-half season tenure with the Oakland A's came to an end on Monday night, as the A's dealt their everyday catcher to the Chicago Cubs for back-up catcher Rob Bowen and promising minor league lefty reliever Jerry Blevins. We take a look at the deal inside.
After more than two-and-a-half years of having Jason Kendall behind the plate nearly every day, the Oakland A's pitching staff will be seeing a new face when they peer in for the sign. On Monday, the A's dealt Kendall to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for back-up catcher Rob Bowen and minor league relief prospect Jerry Blevins.
During his time with the A's, Kendall played in 372 of the team's 416 games. He received consistent praise from the A's pitching staff for his work calling the game and blocking pitches.
Overall, however, Kendall's time in Oakland will be viewed as a disappointment. The former perennial National League All-Star arrived in Oakland with a career batting average better than .300. He never reached the .300 mark at the end of any season with the A's and he managed only three homeruns despite playing in almost every game. Kendall also struggled to throw out base-runners.
Kendall's struggles on offense were particularly acute this season. He began the year posting OPSs in the 400s for April and May. His bat heated up in June when he hit .295 with a 758 OPS. Much of that damage came against the NL Central, where Kendall will be heading to now. He was struggling again at the plate in July, gaining only eight hits in 35 at-bats.
"This gives Jason a chance to be with a team that is in a situation he relishes; playing for a team with a chance to make the playoffs," Oakland A's GM Billy Beane told MLB.com before the A's game on Monday evening. "I think the people of Chicago will really identify with a guy like Jason."
Replacing Kendall behind the plate on a daily basis will be Kurt Suzuki. Suzuki, who was the A's top catching prospect coming into the season, was called up to act as Kendall's back-up in June. He has only had six starts since his call-up, but Suzuki figures to get the bulk of the playing time now.
Bowen will act as Suzuki's primary back-up, a role he has played on three teams in the major leagues. In addition to Chicago, Bowen has seen time with Minnesota and San Diego as a back-up catcher. Last season, Bowen acted as the back-up to Mike Piazza in San Diego, where he played in a career-high 94 games, many as a late-game replacement.
Blevins is likely the key in the deal from the A's perspective. The left-hander is in the middle of a terrific season for the Cubs' Single-A and Double-A teams. He is 3-2 with a 1.02 ERA in 53 innings of relief. Blevins has nine saves and 69 strikeouts against only 13 walks. Batters have hit only .190 against Blevins this season. He was at Double-A at the time of the trade and he will likely be assigned to Double-A Midland.
Blevin's Double-A pitching coach, Dennis Lewallyn, is sad to see him go.
"Anytime you get a big leaguer in a trade, you have to give up something to get something. It was about 1999 -- I don't remember exactly what year it was -- and I was with the Diamondbacks, who thought they needed Matt Mantei," Lewallyn said.
"They traded Brad Penny to the Marlins for Matt Mantei, and it ended up being a heck of a trade for Brad Penny. That's the way baseball is. You're going to give up a prospect to get an established big leaguer, but it's a great opportunity and I'm very happy for him."
The A's also designated Colby Lewis for assignment on Monday to make room for Dallas Braden on the 25-man roster and they activated Connor Robertson from the 15-day DL and optioned him to Triple-A Sacramento. Oakland has one spot open on the 40-man roster.
InsidetheIvy.com's Steve Holley contributed to this report.