After Hanley Ramirez signed with the Boston Red Sox and Dee Gordon was traded to the Miami Marlins, the Los Angeles Dodgers addressed their middle-infield needs last season with a pair of veterans who were in the final year of their respective contract.
Howie Kendrick put together another successful season, but Jimmy Rollins struggled and eventually lost the starting job at shortstop to Corey Seager. Although the 32-year-old second baseman was coming off another strong year, he remained a free agent entering Friday.
The Arizona Diamondbacks and Washington Nationals were previously linked to Kendrick, though Arizona isn’t inclined to lose another draft pick, and Washington instead signed Daniel Murphy to a three-year, $37.5 million contract.
After months of it appearing to be an unlikely scenario, the Dodgers and Kendrick were said to be making progress in contract talks on Friday morning.
According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, Kendrick has agreed to re-sign with the Dodgers on a two-year deal:
Sources: #Dodgers, Kendrick in agreement on two-year contract, pending physical.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 29, 2016
Kendrick’s contract does not include an opt-out clause, per Chris Cotillo of SB Nation:
Kendrick got a straight 2-year deal with no options or opt-outs. #Dodgers
— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) January 29, 2016
The deal calls for Kendrick to earn $20 million over the two seasons, according to Jon Heyman:
Kendrick gets $20M, 2-yr deal #dodgers
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 29, 2016
Kendrick hit .295/.336/.409 with nine home runs, 54 RBIs, 64 runs scored, and a .325 wOBA and 109 wRC+ in 117 games last season. He proved to be a steady force in the middle of the lineup whether he in front of or behind Adrian Gonzalez.
Arguably the only true downside for Kendrick in his first season with the Dodgers is he missed 34 games over August and September due to a strained left hamstring.
With Kendrick back in the fold, Los Angeles can again use Kiké Hernandez in a super utility role, and Chase Utley at first and/or third base.
Last season Hernandez spent time in center field (19 games; 18 starts), left field (17 games; five starts), shortstop (16 games; 11 starts), right field (two games; one start) and third base (one start). Utley started three games at third base and played two (one start) at first base.
Although Justin Turner is entrenched as the starter at third, he’s coming off microfracture surgery on his left knee. It was previously expected a platoon of Hernandez and Utley would be used at second base.