The Dodgers are making progress on a new deal with free-agent second baseman Howie Kendrick, as first reported by Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com. Our Chris Cotillo hears the same, noting that the Angels and Diamondbacks have lessened their pursuit of Kendrick in recent days.
Sources: #Dodgers making progress with Kendrick.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 29, 2016
Source: Talks are "picking up" between Howie Kendrick and the Dodgers. Deal could be done soon there.— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) January 29, 2016
Heard earlier in week that the Angels were not showing strong recent interest in a reunion with Kendrick. ARZ had been flip-flopping.— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) January 29, 2016
Kendrick has spent his entire career in Los Angeles, however only this past season with the Dodgers. In 2015, Kendrick played in 117 games and only made 495 plate appearances. That's his fewest since 2009.
That being said, Kendrick still hit nine percent better than the league average according to wRC+, and accrued just over two wins above replacement by FanGraphs estimations.
Rosenthal is astute to point out that Kendrick would still have quite the fight for playing time if he does return to the Dodgers. Enrique 'Kiké' Hernandez and Chase Utley currently sit atop the depth chart at second base. A third second baseman would be an investment in diminishing returns perhaps for Farhan Zaidi and the rest of the Dodgers front office.
However, there are a couple reasons why this could work out. First, Hernandez is returning from shoulder surgery. While his rehab could progress perfectly, shoulder injuries can be worrisome and rushing a player back can mean additional injuries.
Second, Utley isn't altogether good. While the Dodgers decided on re-signing Utley early on in the offseason and that likely tied their hands on letting Kendrick leave via free agency, they may not have expected Kendrick to stay a free agent this long.
The now 37-year old Utley is coming off of his worst offensive season yet, in which he hit 29 percent worse than the league average. Despite entering the twilight of his career, Utley's wOBA is .364 and is 35 points better than Kendrick's.
Adding another second baseman may not be the best use of resources. As Rosenthal points out, some help at third base is probably more of a need. Considering Hernandez's natural position is outfield, perhaps he could make the switch to third base. These are possible internal conversations that we just aren't privy to, but if the Dodgers are actually interested in Kendrick, I would strongly doubt that all three would remain as second basemen in 2016.