The Dodgers’ decision to re-sign Howie Kendrick for two years and $20 million didn’t come as a surprise to Chase Utley. The front office acknowledged that possibility when it re-signed Utley to a one-year contract back in December.
Utley said all the right things Saturday about getting Kendrick back, even though it probably means less time for him at second base — his natural position.
Here’s the twist: Utley — and even Kendrick — might see time at third base in 2016, manager Dave Roberts said. Starting third baseman Justin Turner is coming back from microfracture surgery on his left knee in November and might still be limited when the regular season begins in April. He only began running on flat ground Thursday.
“As you look at the positions, there’s a lot of plate appearances to go around,” Roberts said. “There was a buy-in, as far as ‘whatever is good for the ballclub’ from Howie, from Chase, from Kiké (Hernandez). We’re a better club with him.”
Kendrick hasn’t played third base in a major league game since 2006, his rookie year with the Angels. Even then, it was only one game. Utley played three games at third base after he was traded for the Dodgers last year, and plans to use spring training to get even more comfortable there.
Utley (third) and Kendrick (eighth) rank among the active leaders in games played at second base, which makes them unusual candidates for the Dodgers’ third base depth chart.
The Dodgers haven’t announced Kendrick’s contract yet because it is still pending a physical. President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said the formal announcement would wait “a few days.”
Did he expect Kendrick would still be available to him on Jan. 29 when the winter began?
“Not necessarily,” Friedman said. “So much of the off-season is staying nimble, and there are a lot of things that happened. A few things became public that didn’t materialize. Oftentimes that happens in the course of the winter; most times it’s not as public.”