Nats decline options for Kendrick, Eaton, Sánchez, Thames

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Washington Nationals declined 2021 club options on right fielder Adam Eaton and right-handed starter Aníbal Sánchez on Wednesday, and declined their part of mutual options for infielder Howie Kendrick and first baseman Eric Thames.

Those moves allow all four players to become eligible for free agency, although Kendrick said last month he wasn’t sure whether he would retire or try to play another year.

Kendrick, Eaton and Sánchez were members of Washington’s World Series championship team in 2019. Four other members of that title-winning club became free agents Wednesday because their contracts expired the day after this year’s World Series ended: Ryan Zimmerman, Asdrúbal Cabrera, Sean Doolittle and Kurt Suzuki.

Brock Holt also became a free agent.

The Nationals tied for last place in the NL East with a record of 26-34 during the pandemic-truncated season.

Eaton gets a $1.5 million buyout rather than a $10.5 million salary in 2021; Sánchez receives $2 million instead of $12 million; Kendrick’s buyout is worth $2.25 million, instead of a $6.5 million mutual option; Thames gets $1 million, rather than the $4 million mutual option.

Kendrick seems to be the most likely of the group to return — if, that is, he decides to play a 16th major league season.

The 37-year-old, who was the MVP of the 2019 NCLS against the St. Louis Cardinals and then hit a go-ahead home run in the Game 7 victory against the Houston Astros in the World Series, said on Sept. 25 he would have ended his playing career if 2020 hadn’t been disrupted by the coronavirus.

“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, who went on the injured list with a left hamstring injury on Sept. 9 and then was shut down for the season, said he wants to get healthy and talk to his family before deciding whether to extend his career.

Also Wednesday, Washington announced manager Dave Martinez’s full coaching staff for next year, including Tim Bogar returning as the bench coach, Randy Knorr shifting from a job in the minors to coaching first base, and Bob Henley returning to the role of third-base coach after being at first in 2020.

Kevin Long stays on as hitting coach; the team previously had said Jim Hickey would be the new pitching coach, replacing Paul Menhart.

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