The MLB hot stove is already lighting its flame, as there have been several moves in the first few days of the offseason. Following a trade request from the Los Angeles Dodgers, Howie Kendrick got his wish as he was shipped to the City of Brotherly Love on Friday afternoon. The Philadelphia Phillies will bring in the 33 year old utility man in exchange for first baseman/outfielder Darin Ruf as well as outfielder Darnell Sweeney. The move came shortly after reports surfaced that Kendrick wanted out of Los Angeles as he was unhappy with his shifting role in 2016.
The move represents a step in the right direction for the Phillies, as it accomplishes something the team has set out to do this winter: add some veteran leadership. Kendrick will do just that, as he has played in the MLB for 11 seasons so far. He is coming off a down season where he batted .255, but as a career .289 hitter, the Phillies and their fans will surely be looking for a bounce back of sorts. Throw in the hitter friendly ballpark of Citizens Bank Park and Kendrick should certainly be in line for a rebound.
The Phillies are a rebuilding club that is loaded with young talent. But one thing they were missing were veterans to help teach the young guys, as those types of players departed back when Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins were traded away a few seasons back. While Kendrick has never been a superstar, he has always been a guy who knows how to play the game right, and will fit the role model title quite nicely.[embedit snippet=”kenny-ads”]
He also provides the team with some extra flexibility as they move forward this winter. Kendrick played in 146 games in 2016. In those games he played 94 in left field, 32 at second base, 17 at third base and 11 at first base. The current plan according to Todd Zolecki, a beat writer for the Philadelphia Phillies over at MLB.com, is for Kendrick to play left field.
Howie Kendrick is expected to be the Phillies' everyday left fielder in 2017.
— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) November 11, 2016
But the winter is still young, and those plans can certainly change. Given Kendrick gives the team flexibility, and second baseman Cesar Hernandez is coming off a strong season, Hernandez can certainly be dangled in trade talks now. The free agent market for second baseman is fairly weak, meaning teams could see Hernandez as a very appealing option given his speed and the fact that he is under team control for four more seasons.
Kendrick enters the final year of his deal and will likely find himself near the top of the Phillies order. His leadership and mentoring will certainly be a plus for the likes of Odubel Herrera, Tommy Joseph and Maikel Franco, who are set to be the team’s core moving forward. Given his track record and current contract, this move represents very minimal downside for a team that was in desperate to add some experience to their lineup. He won’t be breaking any records or competing for the MVP, but Howie Kendrick still represents a very good start to the Philadelphia Phillies offseason.