LOS ANGELES -- Dislodged from second base by Chase Utley and reduced to a platoon outfield role by Andrew Toles, Howie Kendrick was a happy man on Friday when the Dodgers dealt him to the Phillies for outfielder-infielder Darin Ruf and Minor League second baseman Darnell Sweeney.
"I'm excited about it," Kendrick texted.
The trade clears left field for Toles and allows management to redirect Kendrick's $10 million 2017 salary toward re-signing free agents Justin Turner or Kenley Jansen, or spending on their replacements at third base or closer.
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The deal also makes this offseason already better for Kendrick, who found a tepid free-agent market last winter and returned to the Dodgers after they had already re-signed Utley to be the second baseman. Utley again is a free agent.
Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi said he doesn't believe there's a need to trade for or sign a free-agent left fielder.
"Right now, we feel good about the group of guys we have," he said. "With Toles, the way he played down the stretch in the playoffs, and the guys coming back that had injuries, it's not a position we are targeting right now in terms of bringing another guy in. But we'll keep our eyes open and be opportunistic."
Corner outfielders coming off injuries are Andre Ethier, Trayce Thompson and Scott Van Slyke. Unless he is traded, Yasiel Puig is at least a platoon right fielder, and the right-handed hitting Ruf was compared by Zaidi with Van Slyke, a power specialist against left-handed pitching who can also play first base.
Zaidi said the Dodgers inquired about the 30-year-old Ruf at the non-waiver Trade Deadline. He played in 95 games in 2016 for the Phillies' Triple-A Lehigh Valley affiliate, hitting .294 with 20 home runs and 65 RBI. He also played in 43 games for Philadelphia last season, batting .205 with three home runs and nine RBIs.
Sweeney, 25, was drafted by the Dodgers and was part of the trade with the Phillies for Utley in 2015. He spent the 2016 season at Triple-A, batting .233, but Zaidi said he will get a big league invite to Spring Training with a chance to win a job.
Kendrick, 32, hit .255 with eight home runs, 40 RBIs and a career-low .691 OPS in 2016, when he reluctantly accepted the move from the infield to left field.
In addition to left field, Kendrick appeared in games at third base, second base and first base. Although his production was down after opening the season on the disabled list with a strained left calf, he had a 16-game hitting streak in July and led the club with 10 stolen bases. The everyday second baseman in 2015, Kendrick started 79 games in left field this year, but was platooned with Toles late in the season.
The Dodgers have rumored interest in Detroit second baseman Ian Kinsler, who hit 28 home runs in 2016 and will be a free agent after the 2017 season, and also have infielders Charlie Culberson, Micah Johnson, Chris Taylor and Enrique Hernández on the roster.