The offseason has officially begun for the Phillies. Earlier today the team announced that they had acquired Dodgers’ second baseman Howie Kendrick for first baseman Darin Ruf and utility man Darnell Sweeney.
Baring an unforeseen circumstance Kendrick will be the opening day left fielder for the Phillies, said General Manager Matt Klentak. Although he has played second for a majority of his career, Howie is able to serve as a utility man, and, if needed, could spend some time at first base. He was forced to play all over the field last season after Chase Utley won the full-time second baseman’s job.
The trade provides some stability at left field, which was a catastrophe (to say the least) in 2016. Cody Asche, Peter Bourjos, Aaron Altherr, Tyler Goeddel, Cedric Hunter, and David Lough played in a part of the inconsistency in left. Only one of those players had a batting average above .250, and it was Bourjos with a .251. Goeddel and Altherr will most likely be the only players on the list to stay with the organization in 2017, and neither of them have earned guaranteed spots on the major league roster to start the season.
Howie Kendrick batted .255 in 2016, but his average was 24 points lower than it had been in any other season of his career. In fact, besides last season, Kendrick has batted below .280 just once in his 10 season career. Once an all-star, he will be considered a strong bounce-back candidate, especially because he will be receiving consistent playing time, which he was not granted last season.
The players that were sent to the Dodgers in the trade were not in the Phillies’ plans for the future. Ruf, who had more than a fair opportunity to win the first baseman’s job, was never able to produce consistently at the major league level. Sweeney was acquired by the team in the 2015 Chase Utley deal, and will head back to Los Angeles without ever being given a chance to earn a big league spot in Philly. The Phillies will take on the last remaining year on Kendrick’s contract, which is worth $10 million.
The acquisition allows to Phillies to fill the corner outfielder void without committing big money over a long time; in a free agency class as weak as this offseason’s, the avoidance of breaking the bank of a declining player could be invaluable to the future of the team.
As of November 11th Matt Klentak has acquired a bullpen arm and a corner outfielder. It has been an incredibly productive beginning to the offeseason, and there should be much more to look forward to in preparation for the 2017 season.
Photo via Arturo Pardavila III (via Wikimedia Commons)