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Philadelphia Phillies' spring training trade on the horizon

Ruf has smashed 17 home runs in 330 big league plate appearances.
Ruf has smashed 17 home runs in 330 big league plate appearances.
Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images

It had been a somewhat sleepy off-season until it was announced that the Philadelphia Phillies were expected to sign free agent starting pitcher A.J. Burnett. After that presumed deal is done, general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. will have enough extra pieces left to make a trade before spring training ends.

Of course, injury can change the dynamic of every pre-season baseball roster. But, there are a number of areas where too many players are competing for too few slots on Ryne Sandberg's squad.

The Phillies' bench was very weak last season. Considering the surprising extension of John Mayberry's contract, Darin Ruf currently appears to be a man without a position, or even a backup role.

Because Amaro has been bearish on the 27-year-old since his arrival in 2012, it's fair to believe that 'Babe Ruf' was and will continue to be offered to numerous teams. This masher does strike out a lot. However, his natural position is first base and he could easily develop into at least a platoon designated hitter for an American League.

Cesar Hernandez has potential. Chase Utley is blocking him at his natural position (second base) and Amaro hasn't touted the 23-year-old as the backup centerfielder that he claims to want. Because Hernandez is out of options, he could be prime trade bait.

Certainly there are other players (including pitchers) who might be traded before the Phillies set their opening day roster. The odds of any deal being completed could change depending upon a variety of factors that are about to play out under the Florida sun.

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