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BREAKING: Phillies trade Darin Ruf, Darnell Sweeney for Howie Kendrick

DarinRuf.jpgWelcome to the offseason.

Todd Zolecki reports the Phillies have traded Darin Ruf and Darnell Sweeney to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Howie Kendrick.

Ruf, 30, was drafted by the Phillies in 2009. Over his career he’s hit .240/.314/.433 with 35 home runs and 96 runs batted in. A first baseman and outfielder with defensive deficiencies in both places, Ruf was known as a power hitter, but his numbers in 2016 were bad enough for him to spend much of the year in Lehigh Valley. The emergence of Tommy Joseph at first base made Ruf expendable; there were murmurs Ruf would simply be released before the 2017 season.

Sweeney, 25 (26 in February), was acquired by the Phillies in the Chase Utley trade in 2015. He had a brief callup with the Phils that season and flashed slight potential as a utility player, but he never made it to the big leagues in 2016. He had a poor season with Lehigh Valley, hitting .233/.299/.345 with 6 home runs and 35 runs batted in.

Kendrick, 33, spent the last two seasons with the Dodgers. He hit .255/.326/.366 with eight home runs and 40 rus batted in last season. For his career Kendrick, a righty bat, is a .289 hitter with a .332 on-base percentage and .417 slugging mark. He has a little speed (10 stolen bases in 2016) and can play numerous positions, last year manning first base, second base, third base and left field for Los Angeles.

Kendrick is on the books for $10 million in 2017.

Jim Bowden of ESPN says Phillies General Manager Matt Klentak’s plan for Kendrick is to play left field.

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INSTANT ANALYSIS: Strictly considering how far down the roster Ruf and Sweeney had moved, acquiring a potential everyday starter for them is stellar. But Kendrick wasn’t exactly great last season, finishing just 0.9 wins above replacement, making him more of a bench bat. If Klentak eyes Kendrick to start in left field, this is only a marginal win for the Phillies. Kendrick isn’t a power bat, and much of his on-base value is derived from being faster than average. (To be fair, Kendrick had a career low .301 BABIP last season with a career high 9.2% walk rate, so this is something of a decent gamble for the Phils, thinking there’s a rebound year ahead.) So, in essence, Kendrick is another Cesar Hernandez, the Family Size version of Aaron Altherr, or – ironically – the player the Phils hoped Sweeney would become. The Phillies need more punch; Kendrick, to me, is a pacifier to Pete Mackanin, who wants a “veteran hitter.”

Hopefully this isn’t the last attempt at shoring up the 2016 outfield. And hopefully Kendrick isn’t thought of as an everyday starter in left. He should be used flexibly, at first, second and third, as well as in left. (Maybe there’s more to come, such as a Hernandez deal [Kendrick would fit well at second], but let’s not speculate too much.)

So while, on the surface, it’s good to get some value for the Phils’ trash, this can’t be the only value the offense receives.

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