Howie Kendrick missed most of 2018 after rupturing his Achilles in mid-May, but the veteran infielder signed a 2-year/$7M the previous January, so he was under contract for 2019 (on a $4M deal).
Kendrick worked his way back, managed to get ready for Spring Training, where manager Davey Martinez and the Nationals’ staff handled him carefully, and the 36-year-old put up some impressive numbers, finishing the season with a .344/.395/.572 line, 23 doubles, and 17 home runs in 121 games and 370 plate appearances, over which he was worth 2.9 fWAR.
He also managed to hit the go-ahead home run late in Game 7 of the World Series, helping the Nationals win the first championship by a D.C.-based team since 1924.
According to multiple reports this morning, the Nationals and Kendrick, who became a free agent at the end of the season, are finalizing a 1-year/$6.25M deal that will bring him back to the nation’s capital (with a mutual option for 2021).
Martinez praised the work Kendrick did to return from the Achilles injury during the World Series.
“I saw him last year, he came in last year, he knew he was out for the year,” Martinez said.
“This guy worked unbelievably last year to get back and then come to Spring Training.
“When he showed up at Spring Training we thought he wasn’t going to be able to do much.
“He played. He was ready to play from day one. He was ready to go and I had to kind of ease his way, to say, ‘Hey, look, one, you’re not a spring chicken anymore.
“‘And two, we’ve got to ease your way back. We want you for the duration of the year.’
“A testament to how hard he worked. Howie is a true professional. You see him on the field what he does, but what he does in that clubhouse with those guys is unbelievable. And you can’t replace that. You really can’t. He’s been one of the heart and souls of this team.”
The Nationals will apparently have one of the “heart and souls” of the team back in 2020.
Now about some of the other “heart and souls”...
Source: The Nationals are closing in on bringing Howie Kendrick back.— Jesse Dougherty (@dougherty_jesse) December 6, 2019
Source confirms: #Nationals close to bringing back free-agent infielder Howie Kendrick. Will be one year-deal with mutual option. Had two year-offers, but preferred to go back to D.C. First reported: @dougherty_jesse.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 6, 2019