What does Kendrick Trade Mean for Hernandez and Phillies?
Yesterday, the Phillies made a move that may have come as a surprise to some as they acquired Howie Kendrick from the Dodgers. In exchange the Phillies gave up Darin Ruf and Darnell Sweeney. Ruf, who has been with the Phillies since 2012 and has bounced back and forth between AAA and the majors, has been very inconsistent throughout his career. As he reaches the age of 30, Ruf will look to revitalize his career with the Dodgers. Sweeney, ironically enough came from the Dodgers in the Chase Utley deal, now goes back to his former organization. In his year plus with the Phillies, Sweeney saw a bit of time with the big club at the end of 2015, but was too inconsistent in the minors this season to earn a call up. At first glance this trade looks very good for the Phillies. As they receive a veteran bat that can fill a corner outfield spot or second base, while giving up two players who do not look to be in the future plans of this organization.
The Philies and Dodgers have looked to become very compatible trade partners. With both Reuben Amaro Jr. and Matt Klentak as the Phillies general managers. From the Rollins trade in 2014, to the Utley trade and the Ruiz trade this past season. So what does this trade mean for the Phillies?
One of the glaring weaknesses for the Phillies last season was a need for a veteran bat. In addition to that, corner outfield was a spot that lacked offensive production last season. Aside from Odubel Herrera, the corner outfielders showed putrid showings at the plate. Jimmy Paredes, Peter Bourjos, and Cody Asche were just to name a few. So it looked very evident that a bat was needed in the outfield. There are some options in the minors in Nick Williams and Dylan Cozens, but neither showed to be ready quite yet. The Phillies are not in a win now mode quite yet, but they would like to take a large step forward in 2017 and to do that some offense would be needed. So it looks like Howie Kendrick can provide that offense.
Kendrick is a .289 hitter throughout his major league career. He did hit .255 last season, so coming to Philadelphia will hopefully provide a fresh start for the 33 year old. After playing in a crowded outfield last season, Kendrick should feel more comfortable knowing his job is more secure. Kendrick has one year left on his two year $20 million contract he signed with the Dodgers last season. So this year could be a prove it year for the veteran. If he is to turn in a good season with the Phillies this season, he can be inked to possibly a 3-4 year deal with the Phillies, or possibly elsewhere.
Last season when Howie Kendrick went to the Dodgers, he was expected to play second base. But our old friend Chase Utley was able to hold ground there throughout the 2016 season. Due to that, Kendrick was moved to left field and it will be interesting to see if he will remain in the outfield, or make a push to move back to second base. Kendrick split time last year at Left Field, and first, second and third base, but left field is where he saw most of his time. With Kendrick versatility will not be an issue. But, the Phillies have a second baseman who turned in a very solid season last year in Cesar Hernandez. Hernandez hit .294 last year in his first full season at second base. So what will the Phillies do at second base? Will they try to shop Hernandez, or put Kendrick in left field?
Rumors have surfaced that Cesar Hernandez has become a hot name in trade talks recently. While very early, this is something to keep a close eye on. If Hernandez was to go, that would make Kendrick an option at second base. But with the production needed at the corner outfield spots, it would be a smart idea to put Kendrick in left field most likely. While the Phillies could probably net a nice return for Cesar Hernandez, it would probably be smarter to hold onto him going into 2017.
The acquisition of Howie Kendrick finally gives the Phillies a veteran bat to put in a lineup of a bunch of raw and young hitters. Hopefully having him in the lineup will bring out some more production from the rest of the lineup that ranked towards the bottom in most offensive categories last season. While Kendrick can also provide a great clubhouse presence that was left with the departure of Ryan Howard this off season. All of these questions will be answered come Spring Training 2017. And we will see what other moves the Phillies make in the coming weeks.
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