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A new season means a new role for Howie Kendrick

Howie Kendrick has played 9,402 career innings at second base, six at third base. He was the Dodgers' starting second baseman last year. Yet, had he insisted on the same role this year, the Dodgers might not have brought him back.

In the last two weeks, with no club willing to surrender the draft pick necessary to sign him away from the Dodgers, Kendrick and the team resumed negotiations. The Dodgers brought up third base, a position Kendrick had not played in 10 years.

“He expressed a willingness to play different spots,” Andrew Friedman, president of baseball operations, said on a conference call Thursday, after the team officially announced Kendrick’s new two-year, $20-million contract. “That's when things kind of accelerated.”

Half the money in the deal is deferred, but Friedman said the deferments in the contracts of Kendrick and fellow free-agent signee Scott Kazmir did not reflect any financial limitations imposed by Dodgers ownership.

“Any time you can spread out money, it's helpful,” Friedman said.

Justin Turner, the Dodgers' starting third baseman, is coming off knee surgery and never has played more than 126 games in a season. Friedman said there could be 1,300 or 1,400 at-bats for Kendrick and Chase Utley — each of whom is expected to play some third base — and Enrique Hernandez, who can play second base, shortstop and center field.

“There's a lot of playing time to go around,” Friedman said.

Friedman declined to say whether he was in trade discussions with the Chicago White Sox. However, there is little traction in talks between the teams, according to a person familiar with the matter but not authorized to discuss it publicly. The White Sox approached the Dodgers about Yasiel Puig — apparently in the hope that fellow Cuban Jose Abreu might bring out the best in Puig — and the Dodgers instead tried to interest the White Sox in Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford.

Twitter: @BillShaikin

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