Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo talked at the Winter Meetings last month about potentially bringing Howie Kendrick back for another run in D.C. in 2018 after he’d acquired the veteran infielder/outfielder from the Philadephia Phillies in return for minor league pitcher McKenzie Mills and international bonus slot money late last July.
“Love Howie Kendrick,“ Rizzo said. “Love what he brought us in the clubhouse, with the young players, and he’s got a good skill set, and it all depends on what value he brings to us, but he’s a guy that did nothing but great things for us between the lines and in the clubhouse.”
Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY reported on Twitter Monday morning that Kendrick and the Nats “are closing in on a two-year, $7 million deal.”
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal confirmed Nightengale’s report as well.
Although he’s taking a steep pay cut from the $10 million he made between Philadelphia and Washington last season, Kendrick was vital for the Nationals down the stretch and will likely maintain his utility man role.
In 52 games for the Nats, Kendrick hit .293/.343/.494 with 17 extra-base hits, 25 RBIs and 24 runs scored. He appeared in both left and right field in addition to second and first base. Kendrick was also a valuable pinch hitter, going 5-14 (.357) with two doubles and a walk in his 15 plate appearances.
Kendrick is expected to fill out the team’s bench that currently projects to include Matt Adams, Wilmer Difo, Brian Goodwin and Pedro Severino.
With Kendrick now in the fold, is Mike Rizzo’s job done for the winter? Will the veteran utility man be able to replicate his 2017 success?