WASHINGTON — Howie Kendrick is retiring after 15 major league seasons that included earning NLCS MVP honors during the Washington Nationals’ 2019 World Series run.
Kendrick announced his retirement on Instagram, saying he’s “forever grateful for the many life lessons” learned over 32 years in baseball since beginning to play at age 5.
The Nationals decided in October not to pick up their side of Kendrick’s $6.5 million mutual option for next season, but general manager Mike Rizzo recently said the 37-year-old utility player would be welcomed back. Rizzo called Kendrick “a guy that’s dear to everyone’s heart.”
Kendrick pondered retirement during the season but seemed to find reason to keep playing.
“I was thinking about retiring after this year,” he said, “but because of COVID, it kind of raised the question of, like, `Man, do you want to go out like this? Do you want 2020 to be any worse?”‘
Kendrick played 1,621 regular-season and 50 playoff games with the Nationals, Dodgers, Angels and Phillies since making his debut in 2006. He drove in four runs and hit .333 during the NLCS when he was named MVP.
“My beloved Washington Nationals, thank you for embracing me as one of your own,” Kendrick wrote on Instagram. “I feel as though I’d been a National my whole career and the wild, humbling and crazy ride we had in 2019 truly culminated everything I’d learned in my career, and we all became world champions.”