On Friday, free agent second baseman Adam Kennedy agreed with the Washington Nationals on a one-year, $1.25 million contract pending a physical. Kennedy will reportedly also have a $2 million club option in 2011. Kennedy looks to be the final significant free-agent signing for the Nats as they head into spring training.
The Nationals were quick to sign Kennedy after failing to nab Orlando Hudson who signed earlier in the week. Kennedy found success with the Oakland Athletics last season, hitting .289/.348/.410, 11 HR, 63 RBI, and 20 SB. He was a nice find for owners who were searching the waiver-wire late in the season looking for cheap speed. Along with the great season, he reminded folks of past seasons with the Angels where he posted double digit numbers in jacks and steals. Kennedy hitting .291/.353/.444 at home last season was also impressive as Park Factor ranks Oakland Coliseum as a "pitcher's park".
With the Nats inking Kennedy, SS/2B Ian Desmond (top prospect not named Stephen Strasburg) is expected to start the season in Triple-A, but should return to the big leagues by mid-summer. In limited action last season, Desmond hit .280/.318/.561, 4 HR, 12 RBI during a span of 21 games. Prior to the call-up in 2009, Desmond hit .330/.401/.477, 7 HR, 32 RBI, and 21 SB between Double-A and Triple-A. With current SS Christian Guzman unlikely to be traded this season (owed approximately $8 million in 2010), Desmond will try to find time at second with Kennedy later in the season. Until Desmond gets back to the big leagues, the Nationals will have Kennedy as the starter at second with some playing time being thrown at 2B/SS Alberto Gonzalez. Gonzalez will see a bulk of his starts come against LHP as Kennedy struggles with lefties (.249/.305/.330).
When reviewing second basemen for fantasy leagues, Kennedy figures to be a low target considering the other available options. He's headed back to a lineup in which he figures to bat seventh or eighth (opposed to batting second for Oakland last season) and could face diminished playing time at some point. Ian Desmond on the other hand is a solid pick for NL-Only leagues with some added mixed league value down the road.