Phillies nuggets: Club should take time deciding Odubel Herrera’s future


Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Odubel Herrera's future with the team seems suddenly unclear. (Frank Klose/Philliedelphia)

By Tim Kelly, Sports Talk Philly editor

Let's all take a deep breath. 

Odubel Herrera is 24 years old, was an All-Star earlier this season and posted a 3.9 WAR (per Fangraphs) in his rookie season of 2015. Despite some flaws and a recently declining approach at the plate, the Philadelphia Phillies still have a pretty talented piece in their 2014 Rule-5 Draft selection, who probably won't fulfill the prophecy of being a flash in the pan that many have tried to place on him since he entered the league. 

None of that is meant to suggest that Herrera is untouchable. By all means, if someone blows the Phillies away with an offer for Herrera this off-season, they should take the deal. 

But the Phillies are not in a rush with Herrera. Nick Williams has never played a game in the majors. Dylan Cozens has never played above the Double A level. Roman Quinn has never played above Double A, nor has he demonstrated an ability to stay healthy. Mickey Moniak likely won't reach the big league level until near the end of this decade. Even Aaron Altherr, who has flashed potential that's probably higher than anyone anticipated him having, has only played a small portion of games at the big league level. 

If the Phillies ultimately end up with a log-jam of talent in the outfield, there's worse problems to have. The team ended up with a log-jam of outfield talent after the 2007 season and ended up moving Michael Bourn in a deal to the Houston Astros that brought back closer Brad Lidge. Bourn didn't fail at all after the Phillies moved him — he made two All-Star teams — but the Phillies got a closer that was one of their very best players when they won the 2008 World Series, while still having an outfield of Pat Burrell, Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth. If a similar situation presents itself in a few seasons, the Phillies could move Herrera, or another piece, for a position of need, while still having a very good outfield and being able to allocate free-agent money elsewhere in the great free-agent class of 2018. 

Related Read: Execuitve thinks Phillies should trade Odubel Herrera 

There's a ton to learn about the young outfield talent that the Phillies have in their system once it reaches the Major League level, but there's also a ton to still learn about Herrera at the Major League level. He hasn't even completed his second season. It remains to be seen if he's more of the center fielder that was top five in UZR a year ago or the one that's been below replacement level in the field in 2016. It remains to be seen if center field is even the position he plays long-term. 

Herrera does seem to be in manager Pete Mackanin's doghouse, but that's not a real reason to trade him. Mackanin has seemed to develop an reputation as someone who gets the most out of all personalities, similar to that of Andy Reid, so getting the most out of Herrera is a pretty big test for Mackanin. He's only under contract through 2017, so him potentially not having a great relationship with Herrera shouldn't be a reason for moving Herrera. 

Waiting a season or two to find out whether Herrera is one of the three best outfielders in the Phillies' organization could expose Herrera to the point that his trade value wouldn't be as high as it could potentially be this off-season. But given the potential he's shown to drive the ball to the gaps, work walks, cover outfield real estate and provide energy to the team, a few more seasons may show he's more like this era's Shane Victorino, which would be a hell of a player to move after two seasons. 

The nuggets

  • It's early, but Aaron Altherr seems to have made a tremendous recovery from his March wrist surgery. The Phillies have a good amount of organizational outfield depth, not to mention all the money they have available, but Altherr seems as though he's forcing his way into the discussion of getting quite a few at-bats for a long time. 
  • Tyler Goeddel has a Major League glove, but at least to this point, his bat hasn't consistently come around. The Phillies need to keep him in the majors this season to avoid having to offer him back to the Tampa Bay Rays, but after this season he can be sent to the minors. My guess is he'll have a tough time avoiding opening the 2017 season in Triple A. 
  • Ryan Howard is batting .429 in August, while Carlos Ruiz batted .407 in July and has started off August very well. Perhaps if the Phillies waive the two a team will be interested in adding them for their stretch run. It's fair to wonder if the Phillies wouldn't prefer the two to finish the season in Philadelphia, though. Neither will be re-signed and it would appear both will attempt to play in 2017, but it remains to be seen if either will find a team to play for in 2017. If 2016 ends up being their last season, they would have spent their entire careers with the Phillies, which would be pretty cool. 
  • By just about all measures, Brett Oberholtzer's Phillies career was a disaster. However, his story of attending the team's 2008 World Series parade while being in the Braves' organization was one of the more interesting stories I've ever read. 
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