It is official! Howie Kendrick has been added to the Washington Nationals roster on a new 2-year free agent signing. Kendrick was part of the 2017 Washington Nationals team after the Nationals acquired him in a trade with the Philadelphia Phillies on July 28th for McKenzie Mills and international bonus slot money. Kendrick chose the Nats over other teams offering more money for an opportunity to return to the Nationals and a chance to win in the post-season.
For roughly 2 months of service last season, Kendrick made more ($3.827 million) than he will make on this new deal before incentives as this new deal is worth $3.5 million per year. His incentives package could pay him an additional $1.1125 million per year over his base salary. The incentives package is based on plate appearances.
To give you an idea of what Jon Heyman thought Kendrick would sign for and his expert’s projection, this is what it looked like:
#43 rated – Howie Kendrick, INF-OF. He raised his value with a big performance for the Nats, even if he didn’t play much in the postseason.
Expert: $7M/1 year. Me: $16M/2 years.
With Kendrick’s re-acquisition, the roster is now at full-capacity at 40-men. If there are additional 40-man roster moves prior to the opening of Spring Training, it would require a player(s) to be removed from the roster via trade or a DFA (designated for assignment) as no 60-day disabled list moves can be made until Spring Training camp opens.
This deal almost certainly solidifies the final bench unless a trade occurs. The projected opening day bench for March 29th should look like:
- Pedro Severino C RH
- Howie Kendrick IF/OF RH
- Matt Adams 1B/LF LH
- Wilmer Difo UT IF/OF SH
- Brian Goodwin OF LH
With Kendrick aboard, the roster could be complete — or maybe not. Mike Rizzo was making free agent signings into the 3rd week of February last year while Spring Training camp was well under way. This off-season has been slow developing, and there is a good chance there will be many teams making late additions to their roster.
With Kendrick’s ability to play both infield and outfield, he gives manager Dave Martinez even more flexibility in the roster. Kendrick made 39 starts for the Nationals in 2017, appearing in left field for 30 games, right field 3 games, second base for 5 games, and even one game at first base while having a perfect fielding percentage at all positions. While we touted Kendrick’s pinch-hitting ability before, they are in a 14 AB sample size as he went 5-for-14 (.357) with two doubles, two RBI, one walk and three runs scored as a pinch hitter.
With Nats’ players totaling over 150 at-bats, Howie finished 6th on the roster last year with an .837 OPS with the Nationals. For the entire 2017 season, he hit .315 with a .368 on-base percentage and a .475 slugging percentage (.844 OPS) in his 91 games and a +1.6 WAR.
The Nats’ manager now has 3 bench players who can play both infield and outfield. Goodwin can play all 3 outfield positions to give his team good coverage in right field and center field where none of the bench players are best suited for. While the Nationals attempt to become more analytics driven, they have an opportunity with these bench players to match-up better against the opposing teams.
Howie Kendrick will also return with a jersey number change. His whole career he wore #47 until he arrived at the Nationals last year because that jersey number belonged to Gio Gonzalez. With the 2017 Nationals, Kendrick switched to jersey #4 which will be worn by manager Davey Martinez this year. For now, Kendrick will switch to #12 and that is subject to change.