WASHINGTON -- The Nationals kept a close watch on Howie Kendrick, liking the potential match he made for their roster even as he has endured a few injuries this season. So the trade for Kendrick came together somewhat quickly, bringing Kendrick to the Nationals in exchange for left-hander McKenzie Mills,
WASHINGTON -- The Nationals kept a close watch on Howie Kendrick, liking the potential match he made for their roster even as he has endured a few injuries this season. So the trade for Kendrick came together somewhat quickly, bringing Kendrick to the Nationals in exchange for left-hander McKenzie Mills, who is now the Phillies' 24th-ranked prospect according to MLBPipeline.
Kendrick arrived at Nationals Park in time to take early batting practice Saturday and begin getting accustomed to his new team. He then entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning and collected his first hit with his new team, a double to left, during the 4-2 loss to Colorado.
Kendrick described Washington as one of his favorite cities and was excited to have the opportunity to join a team with good postseason prospects. The Nationals activated Kendrick prior to Saturday's game against the Rockies.
"He strengthens our bench and strengthens our presence, especially against left-handed pitching," general manager Mike Rizzo said. "He's got a good split against righties and lefties and he's always been a consummate professional defensive and offensive player. He's a good fit for us."
To make room on the roster, the Nationals placed infielder Stephen Drew on the disabled list with a left abdominal strain (retroactive to July 26), and designated infielder Matt Skole for assignment.
Kendrick's versatility gives the Nationals options at a moment when they are short on outfielders. Jayson Werth has been on the disabled list since the beginning of June after fouling a ball off his big toe. Rizzo acknowledged Werth's injury played a small role in trading for a player like Kendrick -- who will fill in in left field for now along with Adam Lind -- but added the move was made largely with an eye toward adding a veteran bat off the bench for the postseason.
"I don't know what exactly my role will be, but I'm ready for whatever," Kendrick said. "I'm not going to shy away from being in different positions. That's something that I've done over the past couple years quite a bit, you've just got to take it in stride and hope for the best."
The Nationals' bench was left-handed heavy, with Lind, Drew and Brian Goodwin. Washington's top right-handed pinch-hitters are Chris Heisey and Ryan Raburn, who have struggled this season to stay healthy. Heisey, who is on the DL with a left groin strain, has a .485 OPS and one home run in 38 games. Raburn has been a little better, with a .735 OPS and two homers in 25 games, but is currently on the DL with a strained left trapezius muscle. Kendrick has an .851 OPS despite being limited to 39 games this season.
The playoffs could bring potential stud left-handed starters such as the Cubs' Jonathan Lester, or the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill and Alex Wood, so the Nationals could benefit from the upgrade.
"When he speaks, other players listen to him," manager Dusty Baker said. "And he can play, so I think this is a big addition to our team."
Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.