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Washington Nationals: Howie Kendrick Provides Great Veteran Presence

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Friday evening saw a flurry of MLB trades. Several of those trades involved the Philadelphia Phillies. All of them involved the National League East in some capacity. There were even two trades within said division. But the one with the biggest impact on this coming postseason saw the Washington Nationals acquire Howie Kendrick.

The veteran utility man heads to the Nation’s Capital in exchange for some international bonus money and Class-A pitcher McKenzie Mills. Mills is a prospect with some plus stuff who could eventually emerge as a middle of the rotation type of arm if things go well throughout his trip up the Minor League ladder.

With that said, this is a great move for the Nats. Washington currently sits with a 61-41 record, good for a 12.5 game lead in the NL East. The Los Angeles Dodgers currently hold the one-seed in the NL playoff picture, but the Nats are still a lock for the playoffs, with the two-seed looking good.

Earlier this season, the team addressed their biggest issue via the trade: their bullpen. By acquiring Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson from the Oakland A’s, the Nats showed they were willing to make some moves to sure up their roster for this coming playoff push. This deal for Kendrick does the exact same thing.

Kendrick, who is a rental player, as he will become a free agent following the season, has had a very solid season with the bat this year, although in limited time given some injury issues. When Kendrick has been on the field, he has been hitting .345 with eight stolen bases and .401 on-base percentage.

At 34, Kendrick has been in the league for 12 seasons now. He is the perfect type of veteran presence this club, whom have not gotten past the NLDS in recent years, despite similarly high expectations, to get over the hump. Kendrick is a super-utility man who is capable of playing several key positions if need be.

Between this season and last, Kendrick has spent time at second base, left field, third base and first base. As things stand right now, his main purpose will be in the outfield for Washington. But it is also nice to know that there is someone on the roster who could spare Daniel Murphy, Ryan Zimmerman or Anthony Rendon a day here or there if needed.

In the outfield, Kendrick could arguably split time with Adam Lind in left field for the time being. Jayson Werth, Michael Taylor and Ryan Raburn are all on the DL at the moment. As a result, Lind and Brian Goodwin have been holding down the fort along with Bryce Harper in the outfield. Kendrick will help stabilize things until Taylor or Werth make their returns.

This is also the type of acquisition that could lead to a playoff surprise star. If Werth comes back and struggles, there is nothing wrong with leaving Kendrick out in left. He has enough experience that he could come up with some clutch hits come October.

So what do you think Nationals’ fans? Do you think this was a good move for the NL East leaders? Tell us what you think in the comments!

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