Phillies’ center fielder Odubel Herrera has been sent to the Phillies’ alternate site to begin the 2021 season, per Jim Salisbury on Monday night. Adam Haseley and Roman Quinn will likely split time in center. Given that the Phillies are facing LHP Max Fried, Roman Quinn will likely start on Opening Day.
SInce Spring Training began over a month ago, Phillies fans have been left wondering what the Phillies would do with Odubel Herrera. The former Rule 5 selection by the Phillies made the National League All Star team in 2016 and was the everyday center fielder. But then, in May of 2019, Herrera was arrested on domestic abuse charges. The now 29-year old outfielder has not played in a game since for the Phillies. The outfielder’s presence throughout Spring Training was a divisive one to be sure, and one that the Phillies appear to be moving on from.
Odubel Herrera: Far From the Player He Once Was
At his best, Herrera was an All Star. He had 15 home runs, 25 stolen bases, and a .781 OPS in 2016. Herrera maintained a similar stat line (with a sharp decline in stolen bases) during the 2017 season. From 2018 on, however, Herrera’s performance had steadily dropped. During the 2018-19 seasons, Herrera hit for a .249/.306/.405 stat line in 676 at bats. He hit a combined 23 home runs during that stretch with only seven stolen bases. His OPS+ over that stretch was 88.
And then the domestic abuse case happened. Herrera was suspended for the rest of the 2019 season and was not a part of the 60-game 2020 season.
The Phillies gave Herrea 52 at bats this Spring. They did not slight him nor limit his chances. To do so would have been agaisnt the MLB’s CBA. Instead, the Phillies gave Herrera essentially the inside track at the Opening Day job, and yet he fell short. As a left-handed bat, Herrera was competing against Haseley for his position on the team. Haseley outperformed Herera by every metric this Spring.
Forgiveness and Second Chances
Herrera is looking for a second chance. And, to be frank, I think he deserves one. We all fail (some in ways more drastic than others), but we all deserve another chance. The Eagles gave Michael Vick a chance following his time in prison and he prospered here. But notice that Vick did not return to Atlanta for his second chance.
Distance and a fresh start in a new city allows a professional athlete to re-establish themselves. If Herrera made the team this year, the long shadow of his domestic abuse case would follow him in boos from fans every day. It still might. But his best chance to move on is elsewhere. For his best interests, as well as the teams, the Phillies should look to send Herrera to another city for a fresh start soon.
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