A’s take Kendall’s contract off Pirates’ hands

By Jim Callis

November 27, 2004

Completing a deal that had been rumored all week, the Athletics acquired three-time all-star Jason Kendall from the Pirates on Saturday in exchange for lefthanders Mark Redman and Arthur Rhodes. Pittsburgh also will kick in money toward Kendall’s 2007 salary, believed to be in the neighborhood of $5 million.

Pittsburgh’s motivation for the deal was purely financial. As a small-market club, they have been choked by Kendall’s six-year, $60 million contract almost since former GM Cam Bonifay signed him to it in November 2000. Kendall will make $10 million in 2005, $11 million in 2006 and $13 million in 2007. Redman has two years and $9.2 million remaining on a three-year, $11.45 million contract he signed last offseason. Rhodes, who also agreed to a three-year deal (worth $9.2 million) before the 2004 season, has $6.2 million remaining on his pact.

Kendall is atypical for a catcher. He’s more athletic than most—his 140 career steals rank eighth all-time among backstops—and excels at getting on base, but his power has all but disappeared in recent seasons. Kendall hit .319/.399/.390 with three homers and 51 RBIs in 147 games in 2004, and he should fit nicely in the No. 1 or 2 slot in Oakland’s batting order. Kendall’s throwing and receiving skills are average at best, though he did throw out 32 percent of basestealers this year, his best performance since 1999. He’s a career .306/.387/.418 hitter with 67 homers and 471 RBIs in 1,252 games. His on-base percentage ranks fifth all-time among catchers with at least 3,000 plate appearances.

Redman, 30, won a career-high 14 games for the World Series champion Marlins in 2003, but they traded him to Oakland last December for two minor league pitchers rather than go to arbitration with him. In his lone season with the A’s, Redman went 11-12, 4.71 in 32 starts. He has a 102-68 strikeout-walk ratio in 191 innings, allowing a .292 opponent average and 28 homers. He pitches off his changeup, backing it up with an 84-88 mph fastball and a slow curveball. He’ll probably be Pittsburgh’s No. 3 starter next season. Redman has a career record of 48-51, 4.37 in 139 games.

The A’s signed the 35-year-old Rhodes to replace Keith Foulke as their closer, but that plan quickly went awry. He blew five of 14 save opportunities and had a 5.28 ERA in late June, when he began a seven-week stint on the disabled list with a strained back. He finished the year with a 3-3, 5.12 record and nine saves in 37 appearances. Opponents battered him for a .293 average and nine homers, while he had a 34-21 K-BB ratio in 39 innings. Rhodes, who will pitch in his familiar setup role with Pittsburgh, can pound hitters with low-90s fastballs and hard sliders when he’s 100 percent. In 551 big league games, he has gone 72-54, 4.36 with 26 saves and 130 holds.