Posted on July 6, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine

Philadelphia Phillies Odubel Herrera
Image via si.com

The Philadelphia Phillies will be going through the rest of the 2019 season without center fielder Odubel Herrera. On Friday, Major League Baseball issued a suspension for 85 games, retroactive to June 24, covering the rest of the season, for violating MLB’s joint domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy. Herrera won’t appeal the suspension and will also be ineligible for any Phillies postseason games this year.

The suspension comes just days after domestic violence charges against Herrera were dismissed in an Atlantic City, New Jersey court. Herrera had already been sitting out since he was placed on administrative leave on May 28, one day after being arrested in Atlantic City on assault charges. Officials said they found Herrera’s 20-year-old girlfriend at an Atlantic City casino with “visible signs of injury to her arms and neck that was sustained after being assaulted by her boyfriend.”

Herrera’s girlfriend didn’t want to proceed with the case, and so the charges were dropped. However, Herrera was ordered to complete counseling as one condition for the charges being dropped. MLB also conducted its own investigation and is able to levy a punishment outside of the legal system.

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“Having reviewed all of the available evidence, I have concluded that Mr. Herrera violated the Policy and should be subject to discipline in the form of an unpaid suspension that will cover the remainder of the 2019 season,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement.

With Herrera already on administrative leave, the only thing that will change is that he will no longer be paid. He will also participate in a treatment program that MLB’s Joint Policy Board supervises. The suspension will cost Herrera roughly $2.6 million of his $5 million salary for the 2019 season.

“Today, I accepted a suspension from Major League Baseball resulting from my inappropriate behavior,” Herrera said in a statement. “I acted in an unacceptable manner and am terribly disappointed in myself. I alone am to blame for my actions.

“I’ve taken meaningful steps to assure that nothing like this will ever happen again. I have learned from this experience, and I have grown as a person. I apologize to the Phillies’ organization, my teammates and all my fans. I look forward to rejoining the Phillies once my suspension is served and to continuing to work on being a better partner, teammate, and person.”

On the field, Herrera was hitting just .222 with an OPS of .629 when he was placed on administrative leave. The Phillies moved Andrew McCutchen to center field to take Herrera’s spot. However, McCutchen was soon lost to a season-ending knee injury. That prompted the Phillies to trade for Jay Bruce to help fill one of the vacant spots in their outfield.

At the moment, Scott Kingery is the team’s primary center fielder with Roman Quinn also seeing time there. Kingery is having an excellent season offensively, hitting .302 with an OPS of .923. However, he’s not a natural outfielder, so playing center field every day is asking a lot. Meanwhile, Quinn has struggled since returning from injury last month. Knowing now that Herrera won’t be back this season could make the Phillies more likely to add a natural center fielder before the trade deadline.

As for Herrera, he has two more guaranteed years on his contract plus two option years. That means he’ll be Philadelphia’s problem for at least two more years. His 85-game suspension is one of the longest MLB has ever handed out for a domestic violence incident. The exact details of the May incident with his girlfriend are unclear. But the length of the suspension is an indication that MLB’s investigation found something serious and significant. Combined with his poor performance early in the year, Herrera will have a lot to prove both on and off the field when he returns in 2020.

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