Should Dodgers revisit Howie Kendrick after Daniel Murphy signing?

Former Dodgers second baseman Howie Kendrick looks on during Game 5 of the National League Division Series against the New York Mets on Oct. 15.

Former Dodgers second baseman Howie Kendrick looks on during Game 5 of the National League Division Series against the New York Mets on Oct. 15.

(Harry How / Getty Images)

Such wonderful intent. You meet and scheme, research and plot, make overtures and cross fingers.

And then it all goes south. The Diamondbacks swoop in at the last minute and take a bat to your knees, stealing your other ace. The 100-mph closer gets mangled in an alleged domestic dispute. The price for another team’s young ace skyrockets.

What’s a Dodgers leader to do?

Reboot, baby. Take in the updated landscape and plot again. The best laid plans, and all.


Which on this chilly (for L.A.) day, takes us to Howie Kendrick.

When last seen in a Dodgers uniform, he was pretty much exactly what was expected. Solid all the way around. At the plate, in the field and in the clubhouse. And also, on the way out.

Kendrick was supposed to be a stop-gap solution. That practical repair on the old car before finally upgrading to the truly desired model. There was little to truly complain about his performance. He had a .295/.336/.409 slash line. In 117 games he was tied for third in RBI (54) and always batted in the middle of the lineup.

He wasn’t Dee Gordon, but as it turned out, nobody else was either.

But when the Dodgers flipped left-handed prospect Andrew Heaney to the Angels for Kendrick last season, it was viewed as a short-term relationship. Not spouse material, but fine for now. Kendrick was in the last year of his contract, would turn 32 during the season and then look for a longer and more expensive deal than the Dodgers felt comfortable.

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When the season ended, Kendrick appeared set for an impressive payday elsewhere. MLB Trade Rumors projected that the Mets’ Daniel Murphy would top free-agent second basemen with a four-year, $56-million contract, and next would come Kendrick at four years and $50 million.

Only the free-agent market for second baseman never heated up. Very disappointing for its free agents, but opportunity for others. Now on Christmas Eve, Murphy reportedly signed a three-year, $37.5-million deal with the Nationals.


That has to drag down Kendrick’s asking price, low enough to where the Dodgers should revisit their original plans. It’s a moving landscape.

At the moment, the Dodgers have no designated starter in his place. Instead they have talked of figuring it all out between options Enrique Hernandez, Chase Utley and Micah Johnson. They’ve gotten really good at talking this winter.

But they have to really be looking at this through blue-colored glasses if they’re counting on the left-handed hitting Utley taking the majority of starts against right-handers when he’s coming off the worst season of his career and he just turned 37.

Kendrick hits right-handers and left-handers equally well, doesn’t turn 33 until July and has demonstrated precious little decline. Plus he offers a veteran second baseman to pair up with rookie shortstop Corey Seager, which has to be a major plus over Hernandez or Johnson.


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By bringing back Kendrick they would lose the sandwich draft pick they’d receive if he signed elsewhere, hardly a deal breaker. A soft market has made Kendrick available for a three-year contract -- and who knows? -- maybe even for two.

Times change and the brightest change with them. So bringing Kendrick back wasn’t the original plan. That doesn’t mean it isn’t now.

Follow Steve Dilbeck on Twitter @stevedilbeck



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