It was easy to miss it in a flurry of Philadelphia Phillies news Saturday afternoon, but Aaron Altherr, who the Phillies designated for assignment on May 4, was claimed by the San Francisco Giants on waivers. That ends the 28-year-old’s run as a Phillie.
Altherr, born in Germany, appeared in games for the Phillies across six seasons, dating back to 2014. In 984 career at-bats with the Phillies, Altherr slashed .222/.311/.405 with 36 home runs and 148 RBIs.
A ninth-round pick by the Phillies in the 2009 MLB Draft, Altherr flashed high potential in 372 at-bats for the Phillies in 2017, when he slashed .272/.340/.516 with 19 home runs and 65 RBIs in 372 at-bats. His 2017 offensive output, along with his ability to play all three outfield positions, led some to wonder if he had a Jayson Werth/Michael Morse type offensive breakout coming in 2018. Instead, his strong offensive performance in 2017 proved to be the exception during his time with the Phillies, not a precursor of things to come.
Altherr was the Phillies Opening Day center fielder in 2018, after Odubel Herrera came to Spring Training not in peak shape. While Herrera would quickly reclaim the starting center field job with a strong start to the 2018 season, manager Gabe Kapler and the Phillies gave Altherr every chance to win the starting right fielder’s job over Nick Williams. Instead, Altherr hit just .181 in 243 at-bats in 2018, with his season including a detour to Triple-A Lehigh Valley in late July.
After the Phillies signed Andrew McCutchen and Bryce Harper ahead of the 2019 season, Altherr, given his ability to play all three outfield positions, seemed like an ideal candidate to be one of the Phillies bench outfielders. Altherr’s time as a Phillies bench piece in 2019 didn’t last long, as he recorded just one hit in 29 at-bats in 2019, leading to the Phillies decision to designate him for assignment last Saturday.
While Altherr’s athleticism should allow him to be able to provide the Giants with a proficient defensive option at Oracle Park, it’s not exactly the ideal stadium to head to looking to break out of an offensive funk that’s lasted over a year. Altherr should get a chance to get a couple hundred at-bats the rest of this season with the Giants – assuming his play warrants it – though he’s not joining a particularly effective offense. Bruce Bochy’s squad entered the evening as the 25th ranked offense in the sport, with future Hall of Famer Buster Posey currently on the injured list.
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