It appears as if the Phillies are looking to capitalize on Cesar Hernandez's brilliant second half by making him a trade chip.
According to multiple sources, Hernandez was a hot name in trade talks at the general managers meetings this week in Scottsdale, Arizona.
It all makes sense considering the Phillies have been connected to veteran Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman/outfielder Howie Kendrick, a strong candidate to be traded this offseason.
Kendrick is entering the final year of his contract and that would make him appealing to the Phillies, who have made it clear that they’re looking to avoid long-term commitments that could potentially block the rise of young prospects.
If the Phillies were to trade Hernandez in a separate deal — keep an eye on the other Los Angeles team, the Angels — they could look to acquire Kendrick as a stopgap second baseman, buying development time for Scott Kingery or Jesmuel Valentin.
If the Phillies hung on to Hernandez, Kendrick could get time in left field, where he played 94 games for the Dodgers last season.
Kendrick, 33, is coming off a down year in which he hit .255 with eight homers, 40 RBIs and a .691 OPS. He is a career .289 hitter with a lifetime .749 OPS. A more defined role and a change of scenery in his walk year could make Kendrick a good bounce-back candidate in 2017. He is slated to make $10 million in 2017, but money is not a big issue as the Phillies are willing to take on payroll for short-term fits.
Hernandez, 26, was benched for poor performance several games in late June last season. When he returned to the lineup, he took off and hit .327 with a .421 on-base percentage and an .854 OPS over the final 87 games of the season. That performance surely enhanced his value. The Phillies have prospect depth at second base with Kingery and Valentin — and Freddy Galvis could even get time there when top prospect J.P. Crawford arrives. All of this has put Hernandez in play for a trade.
Kingery, 22, was the team’s second-round draft pick out of the University of Arizona in 2015 and he played his way to Double A in 2016. He is currently playing in the prospect-studded Arizona Fall League and is widely considered the Phillies’ second baseman of the future and a potential quick riser.
Valentin, 22, was the 51st overall pick in the 2012 draft by the Dodgers. The Phillies picked him up for pitcher Roberto Hernandez in August 2014. The Phillies also got relief pitching prospect Victor Arano in the deal. He is pitching in the AFL. Valentin reached Triple A in 2016.