The Phillies trading relationship with the Dodgers was renewed once again today, when the two teams struck a deal sending second baseman Howie Kendrick to the Phillies in exchange for first baseman Darin Ruf and second baseman/outfielder Darnell Sweeney. Kendrick wanted out of LA because he was being shuffled around the diamond a lot and Ruf has recently expressed his will to be traded, so both players should be pleased with the outcome.
The acquisition of Kendrick isn’t so much to address the second base position because the Phillies have been receiving consistent production from César Hernández, who improved his batting average by 22 points and walked 26 more times in 2016, but to spruce up the outfield a bit. The Phillies have a vision of Kendrick being a utility infielder, who they can move around and potentially receive more production from the corner outfield positions.
Kendrick is coming off a down year offensively, where he had career-lows in batting average, slugging percentage and OPS. The 33-year-old is a lifetime .289 hitter so there is hope he will be able to bounce back in a role that grants him consistent playing time and the added veteran leadership itself will help the team.
The Phillies basically acquired Kendrick for no cost because Darin Ruf maxed out his chances as a full-time player with the Phillies years ago, and Darnell Sweeney did not have a definitive role in the future with the big league club. The Phillies actually acquired Sweeney from the Dodgers as part of the Chase Utley trade in August, 2015 and now are sending him back.
Matt Klentak has successfully crafted another low-risk, high-reward deal for the Phillies, and if they are discontent with Kendrick’s production, they can surely be able to flip him at the trade deadline if it comes to that.