The Philadelphia Phillies may prefer to cut ties with outfielder Odubel Herrera after he was suspended for a bulk of the 2019 season following his arrest for a domestic incident with his girlfriend.
However, the process of moving on from the former All-Star outfielder is proving to be tricky.
The Phillies would almost certainly have to eat nearly all of the $20.5 million and take next-to-no return to facilitate a trade. They probably would do that, but it still may not be enough to generate any interest.
Consider how much backlash the Houston Astros got – and continue to get – for trading for closer Roberto Osuna after he served a 75-game suspension for domestic violence. Granted, the Astros traded for, and ultimately used him in high-leverage situations in 2018, the same year that he was suspended. Still, Osuna, among other ethical questions, has tainted the Astros’ run of American League success in the minds of some.
Mind you, Osuna was much more appealing as a talent than Herrera is. Controllable, hard-throwing closers are very hard to find. Herrera, for as impressive as he was at times early in his career, he’s hit just .217 since the 2018 All-Star Break. Whether this is moral or not, teams are more willing to give second chances to players that they deem to be elite talents. Herrera, 27, hasn’t been that for some time.
As Meghan Montemurro of The Athletic noted, the player’s association would likely take issue if the Phillies tried to release Herrera because it would be seen as him being punished a second time for actions he was already suspended for. The Phillies could try to say they were releasing Herrera because he hasn’t played well in some time, but it’s hard to think they would have seriously considered outright releasing him this offseason if he hadn’t been arrested.
Montemurro’s report says that Colorado Rockies essentially bought out Jose Reyes in June of 2016 after he served a domestic violence suspension. It’s unclear if Herrera’s camp would be receptive to such a proposal from the Phillies, especially with no certainty that another organization would ever employ him again.
So, how this situation plays out this offseason will be very interesting. Would the Phillies bring Herrera to Clearwater for Spring Training and see what he is as a player now? Could they waive him, allowing him to potentially be claimed on waivers and stash him in the minor leagues if not? They may have to think outside-the-box if they aren’t interested in him donning red pinstripes ever again.
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