The Dodgers weren’t willing to see if Howie Kendrick could bounceback

The Los Angeles Dodgers were trying to do some housekeeping and dump Howie Kendrick and his $10 million salary after the worst season of his career slashing .255/.326/.366/.691. The Phillies came calling and it was one of the first trades made after the World Series on November 11th of 2016.

One the bizarre parts of the trade was that the Dodgers received Darin Ruf and Darnell Sweeney and both players are off their roster now. Ruf is in Korean baseball and Sweeney was purchased by the Reds.

For Kendrick, he had never played for a team outside of Los Angeles before the trade to the Phillies. The issue for the now 34-year-old Kendrick was staying on the field due to injuries. The Phillies were hoping to trade Kendrick for a haul, but the fish weren’t biting. Kendrick had an oblique injury that landed him on the DL then a hand injury at the time he was traded to the Nationals. He had only accumulated 156 plate appearances with the Phillies before the trade to Washington.

John Town of Philadelphia Fansided wrote a month ago, “At this point, Kendrick has little to no trade value with all the injuries he’s dealt with. It will be hard for a team to want Kendrick when he has played in less than half of Philadelphia’s games this season. The only way he can rebuild his value is get back on the field as soon as possible and keep up his hot hitting. Then maybe a team will want to trade for Kendrick.”

Harsh but true. Maybe the Phillies waited too long to trade Kendrick. They had success with the Nationals before when they got Nick Pivetta for Jonathan Papelbon and took the Nationals offer of a promising A-ball pitcher in McKenzie Mills for Kendrick and international bonus slot money for Kendrick.

On the surface, the Nationals were getting a much needed right-handed bat who hits for average, but came with an injury history this season. The Nationals parted ways with Chris Heisey who was their key right-handed bench bat last season. In Kendrick’s first week with the Nats he had to sit out with a back problem. What we have seen since Sunday night and three of his last five at-bats is stunning — Kendrick in the last 2 games has 3 home runs which is more than he hit the entire season with the Phillies. Kendrick was never a power bat where his best season in the Majors he had 18 home runs back in his All-Star 2011 season with the Angels.

“I never really considered myself to be much of a power guy,” Howie Kendrick said chuckling. “But you take them as they come and you just kind of go about your business as one player on the team.”

His initial value looked to be a platoon bat who has had success against left-handed pitchers he could face in the post-season such as Jose Quintana of the Cubs and Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers. Sure, Kendrick can also hit right-handed pitching, but where would he play when Jayson Werth is back in left-field? Those are good problems to have. Kendrick can play both leftfield and second base and even some third base. In his career, Kendrick has played every position except pitcher, catcher, shortstop, and rightfield.

On Sunday night, Kendrick smashed the first grand slam of his career, and it happened to be an 11th inning walk-off shot. Watch this video (below) and you will see everyone in General Manager Mike Rizzo’s suite congratulating the Assistant General Manager Bob Miller who was “the architect” of the Trea Turner infamous PTBNL trade. Was it Miller who was the architect of this trade also?

Howie Kendrick has fit into this Nationals team like he has been here forever. It’s as if we knew him, but in a way we know so little about him. He is a very private person, quiet, humble and soft-spoken. A father of two young sons who loves time with his family. He is from the Jacksonville, Florida area where Daniel Murphy is from. He was discovered by scout Tom Kotchman, Casey Kotchman’s father, in a community college in Jacksonville and selected in the 10th round by the Angels.

Can Kendrick be that X-Factor player that 2 1/2 months from now we look back on as the move that propelled the Nationals? Only time will tell and in the meantime, “This is Howie we Dooo it”

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