WASHINGTON -- After missing the chance to sign Ben Zobrist and trade for Brandon Phillips, the Nationals continue to look for a second baseman. According to a baseball source, the Nationals have had dialogue with the agents representing free agents Daniel Murphy and Howie Kendrick. Either player could help the club both offensively and in the clubhouse.
Murphy was a solid hitter for the Mets over the last seven years, sporting a .288 career average. As a left-handed hitter, he could help balance Washington's lineup.
Murphy was a big reason the Mets went far in the postseason in 2015. In the first two rounds, he went 16-for-38 with seven home runs and 11 RBIs, and homered in a postseason-record six consecutive games. But he is considered a below-average defender, and misplays hurt the Mets in the World Series against the Royals. He can also play first and third base.
The right-handed-hitting Kendrick has been consistent at the plate for the last 10 years. Last year, while with the Dodgers, he hit .295 with nine home runs and 54 RBIs. Unlike Murphy, he is an above-average defender.
Kendrick started his career with the Angels, and during his nine years with the club, he hit .292 and was an All-Star (2011). He also has postseason experience. In the National League Division Series against the Mets last season, he went 6-for-22 with a homer and four RBIs.
Signing either Murphy or Kendrick will result in a loss of a first-round Draft pick, as both rejected the $15.8 million qualifying offer.