Phillies

Phillies trade Howie Kendrick to Nationals

Phillies trade Howie Kendrick to Nationals

Howie Kendrick’s bags — both red, both emblazoned with the Phillies’ logo — were packed and sitting on the floor in front of his cubicle in the Phillies’ locker room late Friday night.

He signed a baseball for pitcher Jerad Eickhoff, shook hands with the young pitcher, wished a couple Phillies officials well.

In time he grabbed one of the bags and took it out a nearby door, presumably to someone who could transport it where it needed to go.

Then he collected the other bag, the one with the bats in it.

Have bat, will travel — that will ultimately be his epitaph.

He is hitting .340 this year, .290 in his 12-year career. That makes him a valuable commodity to a team like the Washington Nationals, who acquired the infielder/outfielder from the Phils for minor-league pitcher McKenzie Mills and international bonus money after Friday’s game against the Atlanta Braves.

Phillies general manager Matt Klentak labeled Mills “a projectable left-handed starter” and talked about the “remarkable transformation” the 18th-round pick has made after he struggled with control in his first three professional seasons. Over the first 111 innings of his career, Mills struck out 83 and walked 74.

A day ago, he was promoted to High A Potomac. With the Nationals' Low A affiliate Hagerstown this season, Mills went 12-2 with a 3.01 ERA, 118 strikeouts to 22 walks and a .204 opponents' batting average. He is 6-foot-4, 205 pounds and only 21 years old.

Kendrick is 34 years old, and the Phillies want to get a long look at their young players, particularly those in the outfield, where Kendrick had most often appeared. So away he goes.

“On the one hand, we have young players that are going to be with us for the foreseeable future, and we want those players to continue their major-league development,” general manager Matt Klentak said. “On the other hand, we love Howie Kendrick, and he was hitting .340 for us. … He’s paved the way for others, and allowed others to grow. Now they can take the torch from him and get more regular reps in the second half.”

Klentak, who has known Kendrick since both were part of the Angels' organization in 2012, said he was genuinely happy for him. You can imagine how Kendrick feels, going from baseball’s worst team to one of the best. The Nationals lead the NL East by 13 games.

“Our ultimate goal as players is to win a World Series,” he said. “I couldn’t think of a better place to be going to.”

Kendrick, acquired last November in a trade with the Dodgers, said Klentak informed him from the start that he would likely be dealt before this year’s trade deadline. The stumbling block was his health; he has been on the disabled list twice to date, with an abdominal strain and a hamstring strain, his most recent stint ending just last Friday.

“Most teams want to make sure they’re trading for healthy players,” Klentak said. “He showed in the last few days, coming off this most recent DL stint, he’s back to being Howie Kendrick, getting hits left and right. That’s what Howie Kendrick does.”

Now he will be doing it for a team with an explosive lineup.

“I’ll probably be hitting eighth or something,” he said.

But hitting, to be sure. Always that.

Winter meetings complete, what’s next for Phillies?

Winter meetings complete, what’s next for Phillies?

SAN DIEGO — A year ago, Phillies officials left the winter meetings with much of their offseason work still in front of them.
 
Manny Machado was still a front-burner free-agent item. Bryce Harper was still in the background and J.T. Realmuto was headed to Atlanta, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, New York … anywhere but Philadelphia.
 
You know the rest of the story.
 
Spring training had already begun by the time the Phillies settled their offseason last year. A year later, Phillies officials departed the winter meetings on Thursday with their heavy offseason lifting complete.

The Phils signed free-agent pitcher Zack Wheeler to a five-year, $118 million contract last week and free-agent shortstop Didi Gregorius to a one-year, $14 million deal at the meetings this week. The signings left the Phils about $5 million under the $208 million luxury-tax threshold for the coming season and the club will be mindful of that. It’s likely — though not certain — that any further moves the Phillies make will qualify as tweaks.
 
Here are a few things to keep an eye on over the remainder of the offseason.

The starting rotation

Aaron Nola and Wheeler give the Phillies a “1 and a 1-A,” as manager Joe Girardi said.

Jake Arrieta is healthy and will be ready to go Day 1 of camp and Zach Eflin will hold down a job. Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez are slated to battle for the fifth job, though it would not be surprising to see the Phils bring back Drew Smyly on a minor-league deal to join the fight. The Phils were keeping an eye on Rick Porcello to see where his market was headed, but he signed for one year and $10 million with the Mets. Lefty Wade Miley could be someone to keep an eye on, depending where his market goes. The Phils are committed to having top prospect Spencer Howard start the season in Triple A, but he could have a major impact as the season goes on. The Phils will watch Howard’s workload — because of injury, he pitched under 100 innings last year — so adding bargain depth is a must.

The bullpen

At the moment, it looks like a fairly unchanged unit. The Phils are banking on Adam Morgan and Seranthony Dominguez being healthy again and Hector Neris, Jose Alvarez and Ranger Suarez carrying a heavy load again. Pivetta, Velasquez or both could be used in the ‘pen, depending on the depth that is added in the rotation. If the Phils want to push the tax, they could make a play for former Yankee Dellin Betances. Someone from the system like Garrett Cleavinger or Connor Brogdon could surprise in spring training. How about Tommy Hunter? The Phils put a lot of time into his rehab after elbow surgery last year. Could he be a fit on a bargain deal? Ditto for Jared Hughes and Mike Morin.

The bench

Former All-Star and .300 hitter Josh Harrison has been signed on a minor-league deal. He can play anywhere and figures to have a good chance to make the club. Phil Gosselin, another jack of all trades, is coming back on a minor-league deal and the team has shown some interest in free agent Matt Szczur. Brad Miller remains a free agent and a potentially good fit. Jay Bruce will add power off the bench. Andrew Knapp returns as backup catcher but it would not be surprising to see the Phils sign one or two more veteran catchers to push for work and add depth. Remember, Girardi has said he’d like to keep Realmuto to between 120 and 130 games so he is fresh in October. “That’s where the prize is,” Girardi said. Austin Romine would have been a nice fit, but he signed with Detroit. 

Trades

While it appears as if most of the team’s major moves are done, general manager Matt Klentak and his group will continue to stay engaged on the trade front and you never know if one could materialize. Nick Williams could be dealt. Miami has long liked him. Velasquez could be dealt for some salary relief, particularly if the Phils are able to add starting pitching depth. The Phils would surely listen on Jean Segura, but he has three years and $45 million left on his deal so that would not be easy.
 
Could the Phils make a major trade?
 
After seeing the Realmuto deal come together so quickly last February, it can’t be ruled out. Even something crazy is possible. By crazy we mean Kris Bryant. Yes, he’d be a nice fit as the Phils make a quick push at a title before he becomes a free agent. But it’s a real long shot and it would probably cost top prospect Alec Bohm, and it would definitely push the Phillies over the luxury tax threshold, though managing partner John Middleton has said he would go over it for the right championship-caliber opportunity. Maybe that’s Bryant. There will continue to be buzz about him and the Phillies will continue to be connected to him as long as there is.
 
J.A. Happ could be another guy to watch on the trade front. The Phils made him an offer last winter and he signed with the Yankees. The Yanks are now eager to move his $17 million salary and might attach a good prospect to the package to help make the deal. Happ would put the Phillies over the tax, but, given the Phils’ need for more pitching, it might it be worth rolling the dice on the left-hander having a bounce-back year if and only if the Yanks attach a good prospect or two to the deal. 

What about Herrera?

The end of the winter meetings begins to put spring training in focus and the Phillies have a big decision to make before then: Do they bring Odubel Herrera to camp? Do they release him? The Phils would eat most of his salary to trade him, but there has been no interest.
 
We dealt with the Herrera situation more deeply in this story.

Realmuto's extension

Sometime before spring training, the Phils are expected to pursue a contract extension with Realmuto.

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More on the Phillies

At the Yard podcast: Ken Rosenthal joins to talk Phillies, Kris Bryant, Anthoy Rendon

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At the Yard podcast: Ken Rosenthal joins to talk Phillies, Kris Bryant, Anthoy Rendon

Jim Salisbury and Corey Seidman are joined by special guest Ken Rosenthal to talk Phillies and wrap up the Winter Meetings on the At the Yard podcast.

• Ken and Jim on the crazy week it was in San Diego

• Could we soon see a $500 million contract?

• Fallout of Rendon choosing the Angels

• Ken Rosenthal's thoughts on Phillies' offseason so far

• Phils have added more than Zack Wheeler and Didi Gregorius

• What's next for Phils with Winter Meetings in the rearview?

Subscribe and rate At The Yard:
Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Spotify / Stitcher / Art19