PHILS TRADE FOR RUBEN CARDENAS, BOLSTERING OUTFIELD DEPTH

By Peter Marks

The Phillies have acquired minor league corner outfielder Ruben Cardenas from the Rays.

Cardenas, 26, was a sixth-round selection of Cleveland in 2018 but went to the Rays a year later. Prior to the 2019 deadline, he was traded to Tampa along with international bonus pool space, as Hunter Wood and Christian Arroyo went the other way.

He got to Triple-A in 2022, getting into 82 games at that level. He hit 16 home runs and improved his walk rate to 10.1% but was also punched out 29.2% of the time and slashed .208/.289/.440 for wRC+ of 89. Returning to Triple-A last year resulted in slight improvements: 22 home runs in 132 games, an 11.3% walk rate, 26.4% strikeout rate, .269/.358/.475 batting line and 108 wRC+.

Back at Triple-A in 2024, he has lowered his strikeout rate to 21% but has only walked 5.9% of the time. The power is still present, as he has 11 home runs in just 49 games this year, leading to a .281/.346/.530 line and 121 wRC+. Cardenas has never been a highly-touted prospect but did get an honorable mention from FanGraphs on their lists of Rays prospects in 2022 and 2023.

The Phillies recently lost outfielder Brandon Marsh and infielder/outfielder Kody Clemens to the injured list, subtracting their position player depth a bit. That’s prompted them to call up the oft-injured David Dahl to play alongside a struggling Nick Castellanos and their glove-first center fielder Johan Rojas. They’ve also given some brief outfield playing time to Cristian Pache and Whit Merrifield, who aren’t hitting much this year.

Though the Phillies are tied with the Yankees for the best record in baseball, the outfield is a relative weak part of the roster and Cardenas will give them a bit of extra depth there without taking up a roster spot.

 

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