News this morning from Ken Rosenthal:
Sources: #Dodgers considering Kendrick. Not ideal fit with Kiké, Utley at 2B. Greater need for depth at 3B; Turner coming off knee surgery.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 29, 2016
Dodger fans, at least the ones I’ve heard from, have wanted Howie Kendrick back for months. (Some because they think that changes the calculus of the Dee Gordon trade, which I strongly disagree with.) You get why: A second base platoon of Chase Utley & Enrique Hernandez could in theory be okay, but it’s easy to see it falling apart, too. I said as much when looking at the projections a few weeks ago, noting that “league-average seemed to be the ceiling,” and the floor was a lot lower.
But even more than that, ever since Kenta Maeda & Scott Kazmir filled out the rotation, I’ve been saying that the main remaining hole on this team was left side infield depth. Behind Justin Turner and his balky knee, Utley seems the main third base backup. Behind Corey Seager‘s first full season, Hernandez seems the main shortstop backup. You could maybe be okay with each of those things were it not for the fact that those two also need to main second base each day. Otherwise, it’s… does Elian Herrera actually make the roster?
If Kendrick came back, then Utley becomes more of a platoon type spotting at second and third, which is more appropriate for this point in his career. Hernandez is freed up to play all over, even some center, which would be important if room on the 25-man roster can’t be found for Trayce Thompson.
Really, this comes off as something of as a smaller-scale Yoenis Cespedes situation to me. The Mets, never wanting to commit five or more years to Cespedes, were fine with a Juan Lagares / Alejandro De Aza platoon, right up until Cespedes’ market shrunk to the point that three years with an opt-out fell into their laps. This seems similar: Kendrick likely wanted three or four years, and the Dodgers, knowing he turns 33 this summer, understandably weren’t interested.
But it seems no other teams were either, largely because of the qualifying offer. If Kendrick is able to be retained for one or two years, or something with an opt-out? Well, to hell with the draft pick at that point. It’s an upgrade. It’s never been about the money. It’s always been about the years. It seems, at least according to these reports, that waiting may end up working out.