LOS ANGELES – Another familiar face will be back with the Dodgers this Spring.
According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, the Los Angeles Dodgers have reached an agreement with free-agent second baseman Howie Kendrick.
Kendrick played second base last season for Los Angeles after he was acquired from the Angels in the 2014 offseason. He played well in Dodger blue, batting .295/.336/.409 with nine home runs and 54 RBIs in 117 games.
Kendrick becomes the second infielder signed by the Dodgers to fill the gap. Earlier in the offseason, the team agreed to terms on a one-year, $7 million deal with Chase Utley. The two veteran second baseman platooned the position over the final month of the season in 2015, and provide valuable veteran leadership in the clubhouse.
Kendrick bats right-handed and Utley left-handed, meaning the Dodgers could rotate the two players based on the opposing pitchers on the mound. It’s more than likely Kendrick will start when facing left-handed pitchers and Utley against right-handers with the two exchanging late in games during double-switch situations. Utley could also relieve Justin Turner at third base as he spent weeks training with Tim Wallach last fall to learn the position.
The 32-year-old Kendrick will be playing in his 11th season in 2016 and holds a career batting average of .291. He has batted .285 or higher for five consecutive seasons and historically has been great with the glove in the gap.
However, Kendrick slipped last season and had a career-low -12 defensive runs saved in 2015 after a career total of +28 at second base. Kendrick missed two months of the season with a torn hamstring muscle and if healthy, can provide some pop in the middle of the Dodgers lineup.
Kendrick was reportedly interested in signing with the Arizona Diamondbacks this offseason after they signed former Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke. Kendrick resides in Arizona and would have filled a need for the D-backs at second base. However, adding Kendrick to the team would have cost Arizona the No.39th overall selection in this year’s draft, something they didn’t want to lose after trading away last year’s first round pick, Dansby Swanson, to the Atlanta Braves for Shelby Miller.
Forfeiting a draft pick was allegedly a turn off for many teams interested in adding Kendrick this year, but the Dodgers don’t lose a draft pick in re-signing him. Had Kendrick signed elsewhere however, the team would have received a compensation pick. Both sides have not confirmed the deal as of yet.