With the snowstorms that battered Washington for the better part of a week finally out of the way, the Nationals were finally able to give second baseman Adam Kennedy a physical on Friday and announce perhaps the worst-kept secret of their offseason: that they’ve signed Kennedy to a one-year deal for the 2010 season.
Kennedy, who will make $1.25 million this season and stands to earn $2 million through a team option for 2011, will likely be the Nationals’ Opening Day second baseman. He hit .289 with 11 homers and 63 RBI for the Athletics last year, primarily playing at third base. And though the 34-year-old faced some questions about his defense at the position, he moves back to a spot where the Nationals had few proven alternatives.
The Nationals were pursuing Orlando Hudson, and quickly moved to Kennedy once the Twins signed Hudson to a one-year, $5 million deal last Friday. Kennedy said he was waiting to see what the Nationals did with Hudson, and liked his chances to play every day in Washington. The deal was done hours after Hudson signed with the Twins.
“We’d been in contact with them,” Kennedy said. “We were kind of waiting and seeing what they were going to do. It just kind of happened quickly. There wasn’t a whole lot of negotiation or stuff going on. We both thought it was a good fit.”
Kennedy was the MVP of the 2002 ALCS and won a World Series title that year with the Angels and played two seasons with the Cardinals after leaving the Angels in 2007. He said his familiarity with manager Jim Riggleman and hitting coach Rick Eckstein, who were both in the Cardinals’ organization when Kennedy was there, tipped the scales in Washington’s favor. And he dismissed the notion he’s signing on to a rebuilding project after playing for a handful of contenders in his career.
“I don’t know about a rebuilding phase. There’s not a lot of young guys (in the lineup),” he said. “There are guys that have done some damage in this league. You put it all together, there’s a pretty decent team there. I hope we can shock everybody with it.”
In other news, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo will meet with Gregg Clifton, the agent for pitcher Kris Benson, about the veteran right-hander next week. Benson made just eight appearances for the Rangers last season, and hasn’t pitched a full year since 2006, when he won 11 games for the Orioles.