LOS ANGELES — Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said Tuesday that he might start playing Aaron Altherr in center field soon.
Add this to the buzz that minor-league prospect Roman Quinn, a centerfielder, might come up for a look in September and you have to wonder:
Are the Phillies planning to shop All-Star centerfielder Odubel Herrera on the trade market this winter?
It could make some sense. The Phillies proved last winter that they aren’t against trading young, controllable players for the right return when they dealt reliever Ken Giles to Houston.
Herrera, 24, might have been the Phillies’ best player in the first half of the season. Indeed, he was the club’s lone All-Star last month. Herrera’s production has slipped since then — he entered Tuesday night hitting just .239 with a .302 on-base percentage since the break — and Mackanin has recently seemed frustrated with the player’s plate discipline, focus and defense.
“He adapted to center field so well last year,” Mackanin said Tuesday. “This year, he's not quite the same guy.”
Mackanin went on to praise Altherr’s ability to play center field. He added that moving Herrera to a corner outfield spot and playing Altherr in center was a move that could be coming.
“I like Altherr in center field,” Mackanin said. “He glides to the ball. It's fun watching him play. [There’s] a good chance he'll be the centerfielder and we'll move Odubel (to a corner outfield spot), but we're not doing anything right now. The thought crossed my mind to make that switch this year — maybe in September, just to get Odubel familiarized with a corner.”
The Phils are in a position where they can listen to trade offers for Herrera because they do have some outfield depth brewing. Altherr and Quinn are both strong defensive centerfielders and the Phils have some young corner-outfield talent in the pipeline in Nick Williams, a likely September call-up, and Dylan Cozens.
This could be something to watch this winter.
In the meantime, Herrera started in center field on Tuesday night and Altherr was in right. Soon, there may be a different look.