Since Dave Dombrowski has taken over as president of baseball operations, the Philadelphia Phillies haven’t been entirely dismissive of the possibility of Odúbel Herrera having a chance to compete for a job in 2021.
Apparently, that’s not just a coincidence.
Bob Brookover of The Philadelphia Inquirer was told by a source that the Phillies are “leaning toward” inviting the former All-Star outfielder to major league spring training. A separate source told Brookover that this is a decision above even Dombrowski, with managing partner John Middleton likely to decide the fate of Herrera.
Herrera, who was an All-Star for the Phillies in 2016, was arrested on Memorial Day 2019 in Atlantic City after a domestic incident took place between him and his then-20-year-old girlfriend. The most notable portion of the police report alleged that “the victim had visible signs of injury to her arms and neck.”
His girlfriend declined to press charges, which led to the dismissal of his simple assault case. Still, Herrera was suspended without pay for the remainder of the 2019 season. Herrera was designated for assignment last January, and eventually cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Herrera has spoken to the media just once since his arrest, when he apologized for his actions last February.
“I wanted to talk to you guys today because I wanted to say I’m sorry to the fans and the organization,” Herrera continued.
“I’m very regretful for what I did. It’s been a lesson learned for me and I want to turn the page and keep going with life.”
Despite that, he was never at the Phillies alternate site during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, let alone on the major league roster. It’s unclear what’s changed that’s made the Phillies consider inviting him to major league camp this spring, when he wasn’t last spring (or summer).
It’s possible – if not likely – that the Phillies leaked this as a trial balloon, attempting to gauge what public sentiment would be if Herrera was given a second chance by the organization.
Dombrowski seemed to suggest Wednesday, however, that such a reality wouldn’t cause the Phillies to decide one way or another.
“Well I think before I start speculating…we can get into that at another time, if it happens…that’s not really the factor that’s involved that we’re working through,” Dombrowski said Wednesday.
If the Phillies do invite Herrera to major league camp, it would hardly mean that he’s guaranteed to make the roster. If anything, he’d be fighting an uphill battle considering the Phillies would have to clear a 40-man roster spot to make room for Herrera.
That said, the weakest position on the roster is probably center field. While Herrera struggled mightily to conclude the 2018 season and begin the 2019 season, he has probably accomplished more at the major league level than Scott Kingery, Adam Haseley and Roman Quinn combined.
No matter what, Herrera, now 29, will make $10.35 million in 2021, the final guaranteed year of a contract extension he signed in December of 2016.
We’ll see what happens. Pitchers and catchers report to Clearwater next Tuesday, and one would think the Phillies will have a resolution on Herrera one way or another before then.
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