Decision time for the Phillies on Odubel Herrera
The Philadelphia Phillies are officially four weeks out from pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training. We are at the tipping point for when ball clubs typically decide on what minor league players will get an official invite to camp. The Phillies have one player that’s currently in their minor leagues that you may have forgotten about. His name is Odubel Herrera.
Herrera was charged for assaulting his girlfriend at an Atlantic City casino in May 2019. He served an MLB mandated suspension of 85 games without pay in 2019. The charges against Herrera were dropped by his girlfriend. They are still together. Last year, Herrera issued a public apology to the Phillies and fans alike, stating how sorry he was about what happened in the past and how he was receiving counseling to better himself as a person off the baseball field.
Major League Baseball’s joint policy with the MLBPA prohibits a team from voiding the contract or releasing a violating player. The Phillies did however, remove Herrera from their MLB roster and assigned him to the minor leagues at the beginning of last year, stating that Herrera needed to earn every opportunity (if any) to have a future with the Phillies.
With the pandemic, any minor league play was cancelled entirely last season and Herrera never had the opportunity to play. He currently has one year left on the five-year $30.5 million dollar contract that he signed after an All-Star performance in 2016.
The situation with Herrera is obviously difficult. I’m always hesitant to even write about it because of course, any type of assault / domestic violence is absolutely disgusting and if you’re involved in that type of behavior then you should absolutely be punished to the fullest extent.
There’s no excuse for violence against anyone and just because you are in the MLB, doesn’t mean you are any different. I’m not here to answer the question of whether players deserve another chance after serving their suspensions for this type of behavior but it is important to note that Herrera was given the opportunity to earn a spot back with the Phillies last year in the minors, which were then cancelled.
According to reports, there are some circles of the organization that believe Herrera deserves a second chance. In other circles, they believe he does not deserve a second chance. Looking across the MLB, other ball clubs have granted players second chances, most notably, the New York Yankees with pitcher Domingo German last year.
Herrera has slashed .276/.333/.423/.756 with 60 home runs and 233 RBI in just over four years in the majors with the Phillies. Centerfield is a position of uncertainty for the Phillies in 2021. The Phillies will have to make a decision on Herrera, who is set to earn more than $10 million dollars in payroll in 2021. That decision will likely come within the next two weeks.
Mandatory Credit: Rich Schultz | Getty Images