Former Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Aaron Altherr’s stint with the San Francisco Giants lasted all of one at-bat. Now, the 28-year-old is coming back to the National League East.
The Giants – who had Altherr in uniform for just four games – designated him for assignment last Sunday as the team needed a spot on their 25-man roster for LHP Drew Pomeranz. For the second time this month, Altherr didn’t make it through waivers, as he was claimed this time by the New York Mets.
The good news for Altherr is that with Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil and Brandon Nimmo all on the injured list, there should be playing time for Altherr immediately once he joins the Mets. The bad news for Altherr is that each of those three is likely to return at some point in June – and likely sooner for Conforto, who is working his way back from a concussion – meaning there’s a pretty good chance Altherr will be designated for assignment again at some point in the next month. That means one of two scenarios will unfold: either he’ll be claimed again and head to a fourth team this season, or he’ll clear waivers and be optioned to Triple-A. Neither seems ideal.
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 type 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 earlier this month. For what it’s worth, Altherr struck out in his lone at-bat as a Giant.
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