Phillies: Odubel Herrera looks ahead to 2020-21 LVBP season

Odubel Herrera #37 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
Odubel Herrera #37 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

Sidelined Phillies outfielder Odubel Herrera hopes to play professional baseball again, as soon as this year

Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Odubel Herrera has not played in Major League Baseball since May 2019 — suspended 85 games for violating Major League Baseball’s joint domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse policy.

Although they considered it, the Phillies opted to not add Herrera onto their 60-man player pool roster for the 2020 season — instead going with Adam Haseley and Roman Quinn. More than a quarter of the way through the 60-game schedule, the outfielder continues to remain absent for the foreseeable future.

Now, it appears the next time the Venezuela native will play professionally will not be in MLB, but rather the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League (LVBP).

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In late June, the LVBP’s Tigres de Aragua announced that they have acquired Herrera in a trade from Tiburones de La Guaira for the 2020-21 season.

Whether or not the season takes place is up in the air, however, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and U.S. sanctions. According to Reuters, LVBP warned that its upcoming season, which usually begins in November, could be delayed or suspended.

If the season does go on, expect Herrera to get his first look playing professional baseball in quite some time.

Herrera has not played in Venezuela since with Tiburones de La Guaira during the 2015-16 season, when in 11 games he produced a .426 batting average. The outfielder announced in a January 2016 Facebook post that he was ending his season early to prepare “physically, mentally and spiritually” for Phillies spring training.

“My goal remains the same, go far in the majors and become a pride for my family, all my people and of course put up my country, Venezuela,” Herrera continued. “Thanks to all my fans for their support God Bless us all.‪”

Herrera would go on to earn his first and only career All-Star nod in 2016, slashing .286/.361/.420 with 21 doubles, 15 home runs, and 49 RBI.

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Through five overall seasons and 631 games in red pinstripes from 2015-19, Herrera slashed .276/.333/.423 with 122 doubles, 16 triples, 60 home runs, 233 RBI, 56 stolen bases, and 171 walks, all the while serving as the team’s primary center fielder.

Earlier this year, Phillies general manager Matt Klentak hinted that Herrera would have to compete for a spot on the Phillies roster in spring training, and have to do everything right, both on and off the field, to receive roster consideration. Herrera ended up not receiving any Grapefruit League game action, and instead played alongside minor-leaguers.

Herrera is still owed $10.35 million in 2021, followed by a $2.5 million buyout for the 2022 season. For now, he must remain on the team unless the Phillies can justify doing so for “baseball reasons.”

Perhaps, poor play from Herrera in the 2020-21 LVBP could be the Phillies’ ticket out from having to keep him on their roster.