Howie Kendrick, who capped the Nationals’ improbable run to their first World Series title last season with a Game 7 home run, has reached an agreement on a one-year, $6.25 million deal to return to Washington, a source told ESPN’s Jeff Passan on Friday.
Steady-handed, versatile and battle-tested, Kendrick came through at the biggest moments of the Nationals’ October run, peaking with his go-ahead, two-run homer off Houston Astros reliever Will Harris in the seventh inning of Game 7.
Kendrick’s grand slam off Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Joe Kelly broke a 10th-inning tie in the decisive Game 5 of the National League Division Series — just the second extra-inning slam in postseason history. He was the MVP of the NLCS, hitting .333 with four doubles and four RBIs as the Nats swept the St. Louis Cardinals.
The 36-year-old Kendrick’s first full season with Washington ended early in 2018, when the left fielder tore his right Achilles tendon while retreating to catch a fly ball against the Dodgers on May 19.
"There’s no point in being mopey about it," he said at the time. "It won’t heal as fast. So the happier I am, the faster I’ll heal."
After making a tweak to his swing by boosting his launch angle and getting his hands a little lower before coming through the zone, Kendrick returned this year to hit .344 with 17 home runs and 62 RBIs in 121 games. He set career highs in batting average, on-base percentage and home runs.
Kendrick didn’t play a full season, missing time in August with a strained left hamstring, and the Nats primarily used him against left-handers, against whom he hit .376/.421/.615.
In 13 major league seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies and Nationals, Kendrick is a .294 hitter with a .768 OPS. He was primarily an infielder for Washington in 2019 after playing left field, second base, first base and other positions throughout his career.