When the Los Angeles Dodgers quickly traded top pitching prospect Andrew Heaney for veteran second baseman Howie Kendrick last winter, it was difficult to believe the Dodgers would not entertain the idea of re-signing Kendrick once he became a free agent.
However, that’s exactly what’s transpired as there’s been nothing to suggest Kendrick would return with the club after rejecting the one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer.
Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi stated last month the club are comfortable going into 2016 with Kiké Hernandez and Chase Utley slated to play second base.
Performance isn’t to blame for the Dodgers’ lack of interest in re-signing Kendrick as he hit .295/.336/.409 with nine home runs, 54 RBIs, a .325 wOBA and 109 wRC+ in 117 games, though age and contract demands may certainly be a factor.
Kendrick, who turned 32 years old last July, missed 34 games over August and September due to a strained left hamstring.
While Los Angeles didn’t appear to have serious interest in retaining the second baseman, Kendrick enjoyed his first year with the team and hoped to return, according to Lyle Spencer of MLB.com:
“Playing with the Dodgers was fun,” Kendrick said. “I was hoping to go back there. I just want to be in a winning situation. The Diamondbacks are a team that’s going to be really good.”
The free-agent market at second base this offseason was thin, with Kendrick competing against only two players of his caliber and position in Daniel Murphy and Ben Zobrist; both already signed multi-year contracts.
Murphy declined the New York Mets’ qualifying offer, while Zobrist was not eligible to be extended the one-year pact. Despite not yet having a deal in place, Kendrick said he isn’t concerned:
“There hasn’t been a lot of dialogue as far as I know, but I’m not concerned,” Kendrick said when asked about still being on the market following a typically productive 2015 season with the Dodgers. “I just want to be in a good environment, with a team that’s committed to winning. I think I mesh well wherever I am.”
Kendrick seemed to be drawing interest from the Arizona Diamondbacks, who made plenty of moves to put themselves in better position to compete with the Dodgers and San Francisco Giants.
However, Diamondbacks general manager Dave Stewart said recently the club will not sign a player who was extended a qualifying offer and thus cost Arizona a draft pick. The Diamondbacks previously forfeited a pick with their signing of Zack Greinke.