Update 12:18 p.m. ET: According to Jon Heyman, the Phillies are “working on a deal to bring Odúbel Herrera” back.
Arguably the most glaring hole the Philadelphia Phillies must fill this offseason is in center field. The team has been linked to a variety of names at the position, including Kevin Kiermaier, Bryan Reynolds and even players from other positions who could roam center field from time to time, such as Kris Bryant.
NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury reported early Sunday morning that a new name has entered the fold, though it’s not exactly new: Odúbel Herrera.
Salisbury tweeted that there has been “recent contact between [the] two sides” as the Phillies search for their everyday center fielder. Herrera, a free agent, previously spent five seasons with the Phillies — 2015-2019 as well as 2021 — hitting .274 with a .751 OPS over that span.
Herrera was suspended for 85 games in 2019 after being arrested for domestic violence. He did not play for the team in 2020.
The Phillies called Herrera up to the Major League club in April of last season after some early struggles by multiple Phillies at the position; he hit .260 with a .726 OPS and 13 home runs and compiled two defensive runs saved across 124 games. As has been the case with him historically, Herrera’s 2021 was defined in part by streakiness. For example, he slashed .167/.216/.271 in July before posting a .342/.409/.634 mark the very next month before finding a middle ground in September.
The club declined Herrera’s $11.5 million club option for 2022 back in November, opting instead to pay him a $2.5 million buyout. Herrera elected free agency after being outrighted shortly after.
It’s currently unclear how much traction there is in negotiations between Herrera and the Phillies, and it is likely that Herrera is one of several backup plans in case the team can’t land one of the more premier options it has targeted. Nonetheless, it is certainly a story to monitor as the team looks to the free agent and trade market to fill its center field vacancy.
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