Posted on January 14, 2020, by Bryan Zarpentine
For their first major decision of 2020, the Philadelphia Phillies are paying close to $20 million to get rid of a headache. The club announced on Tuesday that outfielder Odubel Herrera has been designated for assignment. Herrera sat out the last 85 games of the 2019 season due to a suspension after violating MLB’s Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse policy. The Phillies made the move in order to free up a spot on the 40-man roster for outfielder Nick Martini, who they claimed off waivers from the Reds.
Herrera’s problems have been both on the field and off the field. He stayed with the Phillies as a Rule 5 Draft pick in 2015 and had a breakout season in 2016, making the All-Star Team and earning himself a five-year, $30.5 million contract from the Phillies. However, things started to go downhill for him in 2018 and got worse early in the 2019 season when Herrera hit just .222 with an OPS of .629.
His on-field issues were compounded when Herrera was arrested in May for assaulting his girlfriend. The charges were ultimately dropped, but after MLB performed its own investigation of the incident, Herrera was slapped with an 85-game suspension, taking him off the field for the rest of the 2019 season. He would have been eligible to return from the suspension at the start of the 2020 season. However, the Phillies had no interest in giving Herrera another chance given the suspension piling on top of his on-field struggles the last two seasons.
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Parting ways with Herrera will cost the Phillies $19.5 million over the next two seasons. Technically, the team has 10 days to trade him or put him on waivers. But the Phillies likely exhausted all efforts to deal him before designating him for assignment. Assuming he clears waivers, the Phillies could outright him to the minors, although it’s more likely that they will release him, cutting all ties despite having to pay him the rest of his contract.
Earlier in the winter, Phillies GM Matt Klentak indicated that Herrera wasn’t a part of the team’s plans moving forward. Adam Haseley is likely to be Philadelphia’s primary center fielder in 2020. Roman Quinn could also get a chance to earn playing time there. The same could be true of the newly-acquired Martini. In 245 big league at-bats, Martini has hit .269 with an OPS of .751. He’s also capable of playing all three outfield positions and could push Quinn as the team’s fifth outfielder. More likely, the 29-year-old Martini will provide outfield depth in the minors.
As for Herrera, it’ll be interesting to see if any team is willing to give him another chance. Once he clears waivers and is released, any team can sign him and only have to pay him the league minimum with Philadelphia picking up the rest of his salary for the next two seasons. He’s a 28-year-old former all-star, which could make him worth taking a flyer on for the league minimum salary. However, his domestic violence arrest and suspension could be difficult for teams to overlook, especially since it was one of the longest suspensions MLB has handed out for domestic violence. It’s possible that we’ve seen the last of Herrera in the majors.