The Los Angeles Dodgers and Howie Kendrick agreed to a two-year contract on Friday in one of the more surprising twists of the offseason. The club has yet to make the deal official, but it’s a mere formality.
“The reports that are out there are accurate,” team president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said at Dodgers FanFest on Saturday. “But, we’ll hold off for a few days and then address it more formally.”
To a man, every player asked about Kendrick’s return expressed their happiness with the move.
Kiké Hernandez and Chase Utley, who figure to be impacted most by the 32 year old’s re-signing, said Kendrick only strengthens the team.
Adrian Gonzalez credited the veteran second baseman for his approach and called Kendrick “one of my favorite teammates of all-time.”
While Hernandez served as a super utility man last season, and Utley saw limited action at third base, Kendrick may be line to play multiple positions this season.
“We’re definitely going to dice it up,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said about splitting time at second base. “I think Howie is open to playing some third and playing some second. As the season plays out, we might move him around a little bit.
“There’s a lot of plate appearances to go around. There was a buy-in, as far as, ‘whatever is good for the ballclub’ from Howie, from Chase, from Kiké (Hernandez).” Roberts said he spoke with Kendrick on Friday and relayed the veteran second baseman was pleased to be back with the Dodgers.
Roberts added Kendrick’s presence coincided with an immediate improvement on a personal level. “For me, I told him he just made me a better manager,” Roberts said. “He adds depth. We’ve got him, Chase, Kiké and [Justin Turner], so I think that we’re covered in the infield.”
Kendrick has played third base just once during his Major League career. Utley faced a similar challenge last season, and ultimately played three games (two starts) at third after working to get comfortable at the position by fielding grounders during batting practice.