The offseason days are dwindling down as Los Angeles Dodgers pitchers and catchers are due at Camelback Ranch for the start of Spring Training on Friday, Feb. 19. Position players follow five days later, and the club’s first full-squad workout is scheduled for Feb. 25.
While Los Angeles may still extend non-roster invitations to Spring Training, as they did with infielder Brandon Hicks on Wednesday, the core of the roster appears all but set.
The final piece to the puzzle came when the Dodgers somewhat surprisingly re-signed second baseman Howie Kendrick to a two-year, $20 million contract.
Kendrick previously rejected the Dodgers’ one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer, which ultimately impacted his free agency and list of suitors.
Kendrick figures to slot in as the starting second baseman, though manager Dave Roberts indicated the 32 year old may also get a look at third base.
Despite much of the roster from last season returning, particularly the projected starting position players, Kendrick believes the Dodgers will need to find their identity during Spring Training, according to Jon Weisman of Dodger Insider:
“Teams are gonna go through changes,” he said. “I think the biggest thing is just trying to figure out who we are as a team. That’s why we have Spring Training. Hopefully guys will get in and mesh well, and we get all the pieces in the right places. … The core of the team is still there, and then you add some new pieces in. There’s a bunch of really good guys on this team, and I don’t see that being a problem adding the new pieces. It’s just finding that that fine-tuned area, where everybody gets on the same page. And as long as we play the game well when we get out on the field, and we do the fundamentals, I think we won’t have any problem winning ballgames.”
Along with potentially getting moved around the infield, Kendrick is also capable of hitting at multiple spots in the lineup. Last season started games in which he hit second, third, fourth and fifth in the lineup.
Kendrick then was penciled in the leadoff spot in Game 2 of the National League Division Series against the New York Mets. While Roberts takes over a team that’s had plenty of success over the past three seasons, the Dodgers are still in search of for their first World Series title since 1988.
Roberts will have the benefit of a deep lineup and bench, which Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said he expects to be a strength this season.