The Los Angeles Dodgers have found a spot for outfielder Howie Kendrick, but it’s not on their 25-man roster. Los Angeles agreed to a trade Friday, sending Kendrick to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for Darin Ruf and Darnell Sweeney, the teams announced.
The move gives the 33-year-old Kendrick a path to consistent playing time, something he wasn’t guaranteed with the Dodgers. While it’s true Kendrick started most of the team’s games in the outfield during the playoffs, Los Angeles clearly had other plans moving forward. With the Phillies, playing time won’t be an issue. Phillies general manager Matt Klentak already announced Kendrick will be the team’s everyday left fielder in 2017. He could also slide over to second base should the club deal Cesar Hernandez this offseason.
In 543 plate appearances last season, Kendrick hit .255/.326/.366 for the Dodgers. Kendrick will make $10 million in 2017 before hitting the market the following season. Considering the Phillies’ current position, he appears to be a stopgap until a younger player is ready for a promotion.
On the Dodgers’ side, the move is all about freeing up playing time for other guys. The team already had a logjam in the outfield, so dealing Kendrick makes it easier to give Andrew Toles or Andre Ethier more at-bats. Kendrick could have moved back to second base now that Chase Utley is a free-agent, but it doesn’t look like the Dodgers were comfortable with that idea.
Because of that, second base will either be filled by Sweeney or Enrique Hernandez. Hernandez was mostly used as an outfielder the past few years, but has played second in the past. If the team isn’t comfortable moving him back, the 25-year-old Sweeney may get a shot. He hit just .233/.299/.345 in Triple-A last year. Interestingly enough, Sweeney returns to the Dodgers after heading to the Phillies in the Utley deal in August.
The 30-year-old Ruf will likely assume a utility/backup role with the team. He’s not good enough to replace any of the club’s current outfielders, and he’s not taking away time from Adrian Gonzalez at first. He’s been useful against lefties over his career, so it seems likely he’ll be used in a platoon role. In 89 plate appearances last season, Ruf hit .205.
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