Phillies: Odubel Herrera to play professionally this winter

Odubel Herrera #37 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images)
Odubel Herrera #37 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images) /

Phillies outfielder Odubel Herrera will play in the upcoming Dominican Winter League

Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Odubel Herrera has not appeared in a Major League Baseball game since May 2019 — following an 85-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s joint domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse policy.

The five-year veteran will soon return to professional baseball, however, as on Thursday, the Gigantes del Cibao announced that Herrera will play for them as part of the upcoming Dominican Winter League.

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.

So far, Herrera’s best season in the majors was back in 2016, when in 159 games he slashed .286/.361/.420 with 21 doubles, six triples, 15 home runs, 49 RBI, and 25 stolen bases; the Venezuela native was also named an All-Star that year, his second in the big leagues.

Earlier this year, then-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 earning any Grapefruit League game action, and instead played alongside minor-leaguers. The Phillies also excluded Herrera from this past season’s player pool roster, despite the expanded 60 spots available; instead, the Phillies gave regular season innings at center field to Roman Quinn (251 1/3), Adam Haseley (159 2/3), Scott Kingery (66), Bryce Harper (14), and even Ronald Torreyes (6) — who started out as a non-roster minor-league invitee.

Herrera is still owed $10.35 million in 2021, followed by a $2.5 million buyout for the 2022 season. At this point, it would be difficult for the Phillies to take away innings from Quinn and Haseley next season in favor of Herrera. The organization should also not let Herrera prevent them for pursuing an upgrade at the position, such as George Springer.

For now, Herrera must remain on the Phillies roster, unless the team can justify releasing him for “baseball reasons.” Perhaps, the plate appearances he receives in Dominican Winter League ball would suffice.

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