Why the Phillies are better off holding onto Odubel Herrera

PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 5: Odubel Herrera #37 of the Philadelphia Phillies hits a two run single in the bottom of the sixth inning against the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park on August 5, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies defeated the Marlins 5-3. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 5: Odubel Herrera #37 of the Philadelphia Phillies hits a two run single in the bottom of the sixth inning against the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park on August 5, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies defeated the Marlins 5-3. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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After a down season, the calls to trade Odubel Herrera have grown louder. However, it makes more sense for the Phillies to keep him at this point.

Since joining the Phillies, Odubel Herrera has been a lightning rod for criticism. If he ever makes a mistake on the field, you better believe Twitter will be flooded with calls for his head.

Those calls only grew louder in 2018 as Herrera had the worst season of his career. In 148 games, he had a .255/.310/.420 line, 97 wRC+, and 0.9 Fangraphs wins above replacement. After a hot start to the year, his numbers fell off a cliff with a .222/.271/.384 line from June through the end of the season.

Once the season ended, the idea of trading Herrera picked up more steam. He lost at-bats to Roman Quinn in the last two months of the season and was called out for the shape he came into spring training in. As the players left the clubhouse for the final time, Herrera’s future was far from certain.

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Philadelphia still has Herrera on their roster, and at this point, they are better off keeping it that way.

One of the bigger arguments for keeping Herrera around is the fact that Roman Quinn is made of glass. He has not played a full season of professional baseball once with an extensive injury history dating back to 2013. Quinn missed a large part of the 2018 season with a torn ligament in his finger and played through a broken toe to end the year.

If the club does decide to count on Quinn as their starting center fielder, it would be a surprise if he lasted the entire season without hitting the disabled list. Then, Herrera would be right back into the starting lineup.

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In addition, Herrera is poised for a bounce-back season. He has been in Clearwater for some time in much better shape than he was this time last year. It should help him regain the element of speed that largely evaporated in 2018, both on the basepaths and in the outfield. This should bring his overall WAR closer to where it was in Herrera’s first few seasons.

Plus, you aren’t getting much of a return for Herrera in a trade at this point. His value is significantly lower than it has been in the past few years, meaning a trade wouldn’t net the team much. They’re better off letting him work out his issues here than dealing him for a meager return.

Even if you have Herrera on your bench, he is still extremely cheap. He is getting paid $5 million this season, $7 million next season, and $10 million in 2021. Herrera was worth $7.5 million in 2018 per Fangraphs, meaning the team still got a surplus in value despite his down year. If he can return even to his 2017 level of production, his surplus value will skyrocket.

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It’s hard to say exactly what the outfield will look like this season with a Bryce Harper-sized question mark remaining. Andrew McCutchen in left field is about the only certainty, with Quinn, Herrera, Aaron Altherr, and Nick Williams all needing to fit in somehow. Whatever happens, Herrera should be a factor this year and potentially longer.