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Dodgers finalize 2-year contract with Howie Kendrick

The Dodgers now have a full 40 players on their 40-man roster.

Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers on Thursday made official their signing of Howie Kendrick, bringing back the second baseman for a two-year, $20 million contract that is arguably one of the best deals of the offseason.

"As the winter played out, when you have Howie Kendrick out there free, it's very attractive," manager Dave Roberts said at Dodgers FanFest on Saturday.

Kendrick turned down the Dodgers' qualifying offer of one-year, $15.8 million in November, meaning any team that signed him would have to surrender its first-round draft pick, or potentially its next available pick.

Fellow free agent second baseman Daniel Murphy, who turned down a qualifying offer from the Mets, signed a three-year, $37.5 million with the Nationals. The right-handed Kendrick, 21 months older than the left-handed Murphy, drew interest from the Nationals, Diamondbacks and Angels but that didn't lead to any offers substantial enough to keep the Dodgers from swooping in.

"I think so much of the offseason is staying nimble," Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said on Saturday. "There is constant readjusting and reevaluating and reassessing, and turning different directions. If you are able to stay flexible, opportunities present themselves. We did a really good job this winter of staying in contact with different teams and different agents."

Friedman on Thursday reiterated Kendrick was open to playing multiple positions, which helped facilitate his return to Los Angeles.

"We stayed in contact with Howie and Larry Reynolds throughout the winter but we didn't think it was all that likely until 10-14 days ago," Friedman said. "As we got into January and we talked to Howie, he expressed an openness and a willingness to play different spots. That just adds to his versatility of our roster, and that's when things kind of accelerated."

Kendrick hit .295/.336/.409 in 117 games with the Dodgers in 2015, missing 35 games in August and September with a strained left hamstring. His return pushes Chase Utley and Kiké Hernandez into more utility roles, which also could cut into playing time for Justin Turner at third base, depending on how he returns from offseason knee surgery.

But for now the quartet of infielders all seem to be on board with the plan and with the Dodgers' depth, confident that there are plenty of plate appearances to go around.

"[Kendrick is] a winning player," Roberts said. "It adds depth when you have him, Chase, Kike and JT, so we're covered."