While a handful of notable staring pitchers and position players have already signed new contracts, the offseason has largely moved at a slow pace.
That’s been particularly true for free-agent second basemen, as Ben Zobrist joining the Chicago Cubs on a four-year, $56 million deal represents the primary signing to date.
The group of free agents at the middle infield position wasn’t deep to begin with, though Howie Kendrick and Daniel Murphy, both younger than Zobrist, remain unsigned.
Over the past few weeks reports tied the Dodgers to Murphy and Zobrist, while Kendrick was said to be unlikely to re-sign with the club.
The Dodgers never appeared to get overly serious in their pursuit of the aforementioned second basemen, and re-signed veteran Chase Utley to a one-year contract.
According to William Ladson of MLB.com, the Washington Nationals have been in contact with Kendrick and Murphy:
I just learned that the #Nationals have had dialogue with 2Bs Howie Kendrick and Daniel Murphy. Either one would be a great for the club.
— William Ladson (@washingnats) December 23, 2015
Washington previously attempted to upgrade at second base by completing a trade with the Cincinnati Reds for Brandon Phillips. However, the 34 year old owns a no-trade clause and wanted an extension in exchange for his approving the trade.
Phillips is owed $27 million over the next two seasons. The 32-year-old Kendrick was previously reported as seeking a four-year contract. He declined the qualifying offer from the Dodgers and thus will cost a signing team to forfeit their first-round pick (top-10 protected) in the 2016 draft.
Kendrick hit .295/.336/.409 with nine home runs, 54 RBIs and a 109 wRC+ in 117 games last season, which was his first with the Dodgers. He missed 34 games during August and September due to a strained left hamstring.
Murphy had one of the more prolific postseasons in baseball history before his success came to a grinding halt in the World Series. He hit .333/.333/.810 with three home runs and five RBIs in the National League Division Series, single-handedly sending the New York Mets to the NL Championship Series.
Murphy then hit a blistering .529/.556/1.294 with four home runs and six RBIs as New York swept the Chicago Cubs to advance to the World Series. The Fall Classic was a different story for the 30 year old.
Along with struggling at the plate over five games — batting .150/.320/.150 with no extra-base hits, and seven strikeouts to five walks — Murphy committed costly errors in Games 4 and 5.
Coming off an All-Star campaign in 2014, Murphy was near his career averages last season by hitting .281/.322/.449 with 14 home runs, 73 RBIs, a .325 wOBA and 110 wRC+ in 130 games.
He declined the Mets’ qualifying offer and never appeared likely to re-sign with New York. The Mets quickly moved on after losing out on Zobrist by trading for Neil Walker.
Between nine seasons with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and one with the Dodgers, Kendrick has yet to call anywhere other than Southern California home during his Major League career.