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Washington Nationals Rumors: Interest in Kris Bryant; Howie Kendrick wants to keep playing + Michael A. Taylor signs with Royals...

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Catch up on the latest scuttlebutt about the Nationals in this so far slow Hot Stove season...

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Washington Nationals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Howie Kendrick apparently wants to play “at least” another season, according to a report by The Athletic’s Britt Ghiroli, who wrote on Twitter this afternoon sources, “tell the Athletic,” Kendrick, “... has already drawn some interest and will look to play ‘at least’ one more year,” after he, “thought about retiring,” following his 15th major league season.

Kendrick, 37, (and 38 in July), struggled with hamstring issues and was limited to 25 games and 100 plate appearances in the 60-game 2020 campaign, over which he put up a .275/.320/.385 line, finishing the year at -0.3 fWAR, after a .344/.395/.572, 2.9 fWAR season in 2019, which saw him help the Nationals win a World Series.

He talked late this past September about making a big decision this winter on whether he’d keep playing, while noting that he’d originally planned for it to be his final season.

“This year was going to be my last year before COVID to be honest with you, and you guys really ought to know,” he told reporters, “... I was thinking about retiring after this year, but because of COVID it kind of raised the question of like, ‘Man, do you want go out like this?Do you want 2020 to be any worse?’”

Kendrick was decidedly on the fence at that point, saying he needed to get healthy and talk to his family before making a decision.

His manager, Davey Martinez, said, “I’m holding on to his leg on the other side of the fence.”

The club did, however, decline their side of a $6.5M mutual option for Kendrick for the 2021 season, opting for a $2.25M buyout that made the veteran a free agent.

MLB: World Series-Washington Nationals at Houston Astros Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Nationals’ GM (and President of Baseball Ops) Mike Rizzo was asked over the final weekend of the 2020 season if nostalgia for the role Kendrick and others played in helping bring the World Series title to D.C. would play any part in his roster decisions this winter as they try to build a club that can rebound from their 24-36 finish to this past season.

“I think that I wouldn’t put a whole lot of weight into if they were with us in 2019 or not,” Rizzo said.

“To me, 2021 is a different season, the players have responded differently. What type of injuries do they have, what’s the long-term prognosis of those injuries, and that type of thing.

“What does the system look like at that particular position to take over a veteran player, so I think that we take all that into account when we create rosters, and I think we’ll do the same this year.”

Martinez was asked if he would be interested in having Kendrick on his team again for what would be their fourth season together in the nation’s capital.

“He’s got a lot of discussions to have with his family, and I told him we’ll stay in touch as we always do and we’ll see where he’s at,” Martinez said, while noting that health, and the work of keeping Kendrick on the field at this point, was a big consideration after he used him in a cautious way over the past few years.

“If we can keep Howie and he can play 3-4 times a week, five times a week, he does a lot of good things for us,” Martinez continued. “As you know, he’s a pure hitter, can play some first base if needed, if the DH is still here next year obviously he could DH for us, so he needs to figure out what it’s going to take for him to prepare and be ready, and so that this doesn’t happen again.”

Now that he’s decided to play, are the Nationals one of the teams expressing interest? Is it a wise investment at a reduced salary?

MEANWHILE, MAT FINDS A NEW HOME:

Michael A. Taylor was part of the Nationals’ big league roster for seven seasons, but the 29-year-old, 2009 6th Round pick cleared outright waivers and elected for free agency this winter, after 574 games and 1,804 PAs in D.C. in which he had a combined .237/.291/.395 line and was worth a total of 3.5 fWAR.

This afternoon the Royals announced that MAT signed on in K.C., with Yahoo’s Tim Brown reporting on Twitter that Taylor got a 1-year/$1.75M deal from Kansas City, “... with $1M in incentives,” included in the contract.

ALSO, AND OF COURSE:

MLB Network insider Jon Heyman wrote on Twitter this morning (fanning the flames of all the Kris Bryant seems like a good fit for a trade with Washington talk) that Bryant is in fact a, “target of the Nats, but [the Nationals] are determined to keep young pitchers [Jackson] Rutledge and [Cade] Cavalli,” their top picks in the 2019 and 2020 drafts, respectively, in any potential deals.

So what would it cost the Nationals for one year of control of the third baseman? We don’t know what to think about this: