It’s about that time where the Phillies beat writers begin to reintroduce the name Odubel Herrera to the fans. Yesterday, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports wrote an article about the team considering a second chance for the former Rule 5 Draft pick.
Now 29, Herrera was charged with assaulting his girlfriend back in 2019. Eventually the charges were dropped, but he still served an 85 game suspension. The joint policy on domestic violence between Major League Baseball and the Players Association prohibits a team from voiding the contract or releasing a violating player, so the Phillies did the next best thing: they removed him from the 40 man roster and sent him to the minor leagues. When that move was made, former GM Matt Klentak made it clear that Herrera wouldn’t just be permitted to return after the suspension—the Venezuelan native would need to earn his way back into the Phillies plans.
In 2020 Herrera will count for $10.4 million of the Phillies payroll obligations. Regardless of whether he plays or not, Herrera will be getting paid. He’s technically under contract through options for 2022 and 2023, but I wouldn’t count on him being on the team after this season. The Phillies can also cut ties by way of a $3.5 million buyout this offseason.
While the team is still considering letting him compete for a job, I don’t see anyway that Herrera can help this team.
First and foremost, he’s no longer good at baseball. Prior to being removed from the 40 man roster, Herrera was in the midst of a 2 year decline that saw him hit .255/.310/.420 through 148 games in 2018. While he did hit a career high 22 HRs that season, his full season WAR dropped to 0.2, which was down almost 2.5 points from the previous year. He’s been out of baseball for almost two years, so I’m not so sure how much of an upgrade he would be over what they already have.
In 2020 the Phillies went with a platoon in CF, with Adam Haseley and Roman Quinn receiving the majority of the playing time there. Without a clear move this offseason to upgrade CF, it seems like it’ll be more of the same, possibly with more Scott Kingery sprinkled in.
The team hasn’t found a productive CF in the time that Herrera has been gone, so there would be a hypothetical fit there. However, I just don’t see the positives in having Herrera in the lineup. While Quinn and Kingery have been given plenty of opportunities with this team, I’m more so interested in seeing what Haseley can do with more playing time, not less.
Haseley has 301 career at-bats, and has shown why teams thought of him so highly in the 2017 Draft. He has performed well in his limited time on the field, and I think it is worth it to see what else he can do. Haseley seems to be the perfect bottom of the order bat for this lineup: a guy who will post low strikeout numbers, put the ball in play, use all fields, etc.
Not only does Herrera take at-bats away from Haseley & Co, but I find it hard to believe that the entire team would be happy with him being back. Some players voiced their displeasure if he were on the team privately last spring, while others were willing to work with him if he showed remorse and that he had learned. This team has gone through a culture change this offseason with the changes made in the front office. Introducing a player with Herrera’s history back into the fold is not the way that the Phillies will want start 2021.
The Mets had to fire their GM Jared Porter this morning after it was leaked he sent unsolicited pictures to a foreign reporter. It is likely he will not be in baseball again for a long time, and rightfully so. What Herrera did was just as bad, if not worse than what Porter did. While I am glad that he apologized for transgressions back in February 2020, Herrera has still been getting paid this whole time outside of his suspension.
Call me a cynic, but I find it hard to believe that someone can truly learn from what they did if nothing was really taken away from them as a result.
After everything that the Phillies have put this fanbase through recently, I think it’s best if Herrera and the team just go their separate ways.