LOS ANGELES -- On the offensive side for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Jimmy Rollins might be gone, but Howie Kendrick's return means that most of the band is back together from a club that took a punch to the gut from the New York Mets in the National League Division Series.
Now if only the Dodgers can stay healthy.
Kendrick's return was first reported by Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, with additional reports confirming that the second baseman will make $20 million over his new two-year deal.
In reaching agreement with Kendrick three weeks before pitchers and catchers are due to report to Arizona, the Dodgers struck a favorable deal to bring back a player who batted .295 with a .409 slugging percentage over 117 games during his first season with the club. Kendrick turned down a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer at the start of the offseason.
That qualifying offer, once declined, meant that any team that signed Kendrick would have to part with a draft pick as compensation to the Dodgers. It appears to have been too much of a commitment for any team looking to bring aboard an infielder who will turn 33 during the upcoming season.
In the end, it all worked out as well as the Dodgers could have hoped, although the inventory of infielders, particularly second baseman, is downright gluttonous.
Kendrick's return nixes what had been shaping up to be a platoon between Chase Utley and Enrique Hernandez on the right side of the infield. And that doesn't even account for the presence of more second basemen in Alex Guerrero and Micah Johnson, the latter acquired in a trade from the Chicago White Sox.
Injury potential is always present when it comes to a 33-year-old infielder such as Kendrick, who sat out more than a month late last season because of a hamstring issue. But the club has plenty of other options, if necessary. It's a luxury that is not lost on ace pitcher Clayton Kershaw.
"Last year, we saw what injuries can kind of do to a team," Kershaw said Friday between the L.A. City Council meeting that voted to create Vin Scully Avenue and a lunch with members of the Wounded Warrior Project. "We just have to do what we're supposed to do. I know that sounds pretty vague, but the way our team is put together, if we do what we're supposed to do, we'll be all right."
At the time of his hamstring injury last year, Kendrick was among the National League leaders at second base with a .759 OPS. He returned Sept. 19 and batted .289 in 12 games but had only two extra-base hits over his final 45 at-bats and both his slugging percentage and OPS tailed off. That was until the postseason, when it picked right back up again.
That always has been Kendrick's forte, to deliver incredibly consistent offense and avoid the steep peaks and valleys. His defense has never been spectacular, but he handles the glove adequately.
"I've seen it from the other side," new Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of Kendrick. "I've always admired the way he has played the game."
Now Roberts will get more of an up-close-and-personal look.
"He's a heck of a ballplayer," Roberts said Friday as rumors of a potential Kendrick deal circulated. "I know that he enjoyed his time here last year. If something does work out, it makes us a better ballclub."