The hot stove appears to be heating up.
Through the first two days of MLB Free Agency, the stove barely made it to lukewarm status, as there were only a pair of signings. We’ve already seen a pair of signings today, and the day is still young. Additionally, moments ago, we just witnessed the first trade of the offseason, as the Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers agreed to a deal that would send Howie Kendrick to the “City of Brotherly Love.” In exchange for Kendrick, the Dodgers will get a pair of infielders in first baseman Darin Ruf and second baseman/outfielder Darnell Sweeney.
— Phillies (@Phillies) November 11, 2016
Kendrick, 33, has recently taken on more a utility role, as opposed to prior years in his career. Initially starting out as a second baseman for the Los Angeles Angels, the right-handed hitter made the jump to the other side of Tinseltown back in 2015, signing with the Dodgers.
In 11 career seasons, Kendrick owns a career .293/.333/.423 batting line with 87 home runs and 555 RBIs.
Ruf, 30, and Sweeney, 25, will both add depth within the Dodgers organization. Whether that depth comes at the major-league or minor-league level, we’ll have to wait and see. Ruf has been quite sporadic in his time with the Phillies, having alternating seasons with double-digit homers. He never really caught on as a full-time regular with the team, and recently took a backseat to former catching prospect Tommy Joseph. All told, Ruf is a career .245 hitter in 286 games, with 32 round-trippers and 87 RBIs.
The acquisition of Sweeney actually turns out to be a reunion, as the Phillies acquired Sweeney in an August 2015 deal for longtime second baseman Chase Utley. Now, Sweeney is headed back west to the organization that drafted him. Much like Kendrick, the 25-year old has taken on the role of a utility-man. He really hasn’t had much exposure in the majors, aside from a brief 37-game audition where he hit .176/.286.353 with one home run and three RBIs. Down in the minors, Sweeney is a different hitter, batting a career .270 with 45 homers, 251 RBIs, and 133 stolen bases.
Given the overall depth of both the infield and outfield in the Phillies farm system, this move makes sense. Not only does the move provide a veteran presence in the locker room, but according to general manager Matt Klentak, the newly-acquired Kendrick will be the man in left field — solving part of the team’s outfield issue.
As the offseason progresses, the hot stove figures to heat up. Given the lack of top-flight free agents though, the trade market is expected to be more active then normal.