Believing Kendrick was gone and they'd receive a compensatory Draft pick, the Dodgers re-signed Chase Utley to a one-year, $7 million deal to share second base with Kiké Hernandez, who is recovering from right shoulder surgery.
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Meanwhile, as concern over third baseman Justin Turner's repaired left knee sank in, management rethought the value of Kendrick, who hit .295 last year, compared to Utley's injury-diminished .212.
"As we got into January and talking to Howie, he expressed an openness and willingness to play different spots that would add to the versatility of our roster, and that's when things accelerated," Friedman said. "We were looking for the right fit. We were looking for a profile similar to second and third with Justin coming back from surgery, with Kiké as well coming off shoulder surgery. It was a profile we were searching for on the market, and it got to the point where it made sense for both sides to figure it out."
Friedman added that there will be 1,300-1,400 combined plate appearances between second and third base, plenty to divvy up among Turner, Kendrick, Utley and Hernandez, among others.
Manager Dave Roberts said at Saturday's FanFest that there will be enough at-bats to go around, and Utley followed that script in his comments. Roberts said Kendrick told him he's willing to play some third base as well, even though he has been almost exclusively a second baseman in the Major Leagues.
Kendrick's return means the Dodgers will have almost their entire group of position players back from last year, with the big exception being shortstop Jimmy Rollins, who lost his starting job to rookie Corey Seager.
Kendrick was acquired during the 2014 Winter Meetings from the Angels for pitching prospect Andrew Heaney to take over second base from Dee Gordon, who had been dealt to Miami.
Kendrick hit .360 with runners in scoring position, the fifth-best mark in the league, and batted .297 against right-handed pitching, eighth highest in the league by a right-handed hitter. He missed five weeks with a hamstring strain late in the season.
Despite the returns of the 37-year-old Utley and 32-year-old Kendrick, the Dodgers have 12 players who are at least 30 years old, compared to 17 at the start of Spring Training last year.
Friedman would not comment on media reports that the Dodgers have had trade talks with the White Sox involving Andre Ethier, who will qualify for 10-and-5 trade veto rights in April.