The Nationals have reached a deal to bring back versatile utility-man Howie Kendrick, per a tweet from Bob Nightengale of USA Today. It’s a two-year deal for $7 million, per Nightengale.
Kendrick began 2017 with the Phillies but was flipped to the Nationals on July 28th for a minor league pitcher and international bonus money. The righty swinger was limited to 91 games due to various injuries, but batted a stellar .315/.368/.475 between the two teams, including a .293/.343/.494 slash-line (including seven of his nine home runs) with the NL East champion Nationals. Kendrick saw extensive time at both second base and left field, and also played a few games at first base and right field.
The 34-year-old veteran will be playing his 13th major league season in 2018, and will provide valuable insurance to the Nationals, particularly with second baseman Daniel Murphy coming off of knee microfracture surgery and outfielder Adam Eaton losing most of 2017 to a torn ACL. Kendrick has seen most of his career playing time at the keystone but began to increase his outfield reps as a member of the Dodgers in 2016, and continued to see plenty of time there this past season, as mentioned.
Kendrick joins an enviably deep Nationals bench that also includes speedy infielder Wilmer Difo, power-hitting first baseman Matt Adams, and well-rounded outfielder Brian Goodwin.
The Nationals, from here, are quite likely focusing on catcher to share time with if not supplant Matt Wieters, as well as a fifth starter; they have been connected to Alex Avila and Lance Lynn for those two roles, respectively.