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Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Next up: Erick Aybar?

By Mark Saxon

Now that the Angels have locked up Howie Kendrick to a four-year contract extension, is it just a matter of time before they reach a similar agreement with his Gold Glove-winning double-play partner?

According to general manager Jerry Dipoto, that’s not a foregone conclusion. While Dipoto has opened talks with Erick Aybar’s representatives, he said he has discussed both a multi-year contract and one that would keep him in Anaheim just until next fall, when Aybar would reach free agency.

Aybar is one of three Angels eligible for arbitration, but the only one entering his walk year.

“We’ll continue to talk to Erick," Dipoto said, "both as it pertains to his 2012 contract as well as the idea of staying here for a longer period."

Aybar and Kendrick, 28, have have been playing together since their days at Double-A Arkansas. While they have different skill sets, the value they bring to the team is similar. Kendrick is six months older and has more power, but less speed and isn't as good a defender. It would seem that Kendrick’s $33.5 million contract would be a good model for talks with Aybar, who turns 28 in four days.

“Last year, we both talked about how we want to stay here and play in Anaheim,” Kendrick said. “I definitely know he wants to stay in Anaheim and play here. He’s as passionate about the game as any of us and he wants to win. I don’t think I’ve played with a more competitive guy.

“We all know each other. We’ve been around each other for a long time and I think it’d be perfect playing with him for the next four years up the middle.”