The Philadelphia Phillies entered Monday evening’s matchup with the New York Mets carrying a -8 run differential in part because they expected to get significantly more offensive production from their outfield. But they’ve lost Andrew McCutchen for the season with a torn ACL, and may not get back Opening Day center fielder Odubel Herrera either.
Herrera was arrested in Atlantic City on Memorial Day after an alleged domestic incident with his girlfriend led to the police being called. Details of the alleged incident painted Herrera in a very bad light, with the police report suggesting that his girlfriend had “visible signs of injury to her arms and neck.” Herrera has been on administrative leave since that incident, as it plays out in the courts.
Monday, Phillies general manager Matt Klentak addressed the media largely about the team’s recent collapse, and what that may mean for the futures of hitting coach John Mallee and manager Gabe Kapler. Klentak was also asked to update Herrera’s situation.
“I will continue to be as transparent as I can,” Klentak told the assembled media, which included Dave Uram of KYW NewsRadio 1060. “But I think I told you back then that the league does not tell us a lot as this is going on. What I can tell you – and I think many of you know this – he was scheduled for a court date last week, which was delayed. I believe that [court date] is going to be this week, if not today. And that was one of the pieces of information that the league was waiting on before they determined what they are going to do.”
The last update that was made public was that Herrera was “scheduled to appear in municipal court on July 3 at 8:30 a.m. ET.” Unless that date has changed (which it may have), it wasn’t today or this week, as Klentak suggested. That may give you an idea of how Herrera fits into the team’s plans moving forward. After Herrera waived his arraignment court appearance, MLB extended his administrative leave to July 1, which would be before his new court date. But the league has already extended his leave multiple times, so they’ll certainly do it at least one more time if July 3 is indeed the day that Herrera will appear in court.
Whether the Phillies plan to retain Herrera or not after the legal process – and MLB’s subsequent ruling on a possible punishment – plays out, Klentak says that the Phillies aren’t banking on the 2016 All-Star returning in 2019.
“I can tell you that from a roster-building perspective, we need to assume that we’re not going to have Odubel anytime soon,” Klentak said. “And if we do, then we’ll adjust to that. But I don’t think we can go into this counting on him back by a certain date or performing at a certain level. To do that would not be wise.”
Prior to his arrest, Herrera was slashing just .222/.288/.341 in 126 at-bats. This came after he hit .214 with a .622 OPS after the All-Star Break in 2018. Given his streaky nature and more-than-occasional mental lapses, it had started to feel like the 27-year-old’s time in red pinstripes had run its course. The issue is that after 2019, Herrera is still owed $20.5 million.
Since Herrera has been away from the team, the Phillies have struggled to fill the void in center field. McCutchen got a bulk of the time there initially, but then suffered his season-ending injury. Scott Kingery has done an admirable job attempting to adjust to playing center field, but he’s still more geared to be an infielder or corner outfielder, and the Phillies have also needed him regularly at third base with how much Maikel Franco has struggled. Roman Quinn started in center field Monday evening, though he entered the game hitting just .111 in 36 at-bats in 2019 and has struggled to stay healthy in his young career.
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