Phillies

Answering some questions stemming from Odubel Herrera’s domestic abuse arrest

Answering some questions stemming from Odubel Herrera’s domestic abuse arrest

Phillies outfielder Odubel Herrera was arrested on charges of domestic abuse Monday night in Atlantic City (see story). 

Let’s try to answer some questions on the matter:

How did the Phillies find out?
Bonnie Clark, the Phillies’ vice president of communications, learned of the arrest about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday morning from a law enforcement official in Atlantic City and immediately phoned general manager Matt Klentak, who was in a meeting preparing for the upcoming draft. In a text, Klentak asked Clark if the matter could wait. She replied, “No. Urgent.”

What did Klentak do? 
He immediately alerted his superiors, including ownership. He followed protocol and alerted Major League Baseball. He then phoned manager Gabe Kapler, who was at a Starbucks.

Did the Phillies speak with Herrera? 
Yes. Klentak and Kapler phoned Herrera at his residence and told him he was being placed on seven-day administrative leave, as per MLB rule. They told him not to report to the ballpark. 

Klentak would not offer details of the conversation, but he did say that Herrera apologized. For what, the incident, the distraction? “I think all of the above,” Klentak said.

The GM talked about how seriously the organization took the charges and the overall matter of domestic abuse, but he could not speak specifically about the matter because of the ongoing investigation.

Kapler also avoided talking about details because of the ongoing investigation. He did offer this, however:

“I can speak for myself and say it’s deeply disturbing,” he said. “It’s not something you want to be dealing with. I’m personally not feeling great about it right now.”

As a player, Kapler and his ex-wife, Lisa, led a foundation that helped victims of domestic abuse so he was personally troubled by the news.

What happens during the seven-day administrative leave?
MLB, in concert with law enforcement officials, investigates the charges against Herrera. If it needs more time to gather facts, the leave can be extended. If MLB finds no wrongdoing, Herrera could conceivably be reinstated. These “leaves” are often extended.

Does Herrera get paid during the leave? 
Yes. He continues to receive his $5.35 million salary.

Can Herrera be suspended? 
Yes. The Commissioner of baseball, depending on the results of the investigation, can suspend Herrera. Any suspension would be without pay. The Commissioner handles all discipline in these matters.

How long can these suspensions last? 
Chicago Cubs infielder Addison Russell recently completed a 40-game suspension.

Can the Phillies void Herrera's contract if he is found guilty? 
No. The domestic abuse agreement between MLB and the players association does not allow that.

If the Phillies were to decide that they wanted to release Herrera, they would be on the hook for the remainder of his contract — about $23.7 million through 2021.

Have we seen the last of Herrera as a Phillie?
“I think that's premature to speculate at this point,” Klentak said. “There's not enough information about what happened.”

What are Herrera's teammates saying? 
Kapler held a team meeting to address the situation with players. Players were pretty tight-lipped.

“I don’t know enough to comment,” Scott Kingery said. “We’re all ready to go play and try to win a game tonight.”

For the record, all players attend a morning seminar during spring training on the matter of domestic abuse.

How did the Phillies fill Herrera's roster spot? 
Outfielder Nick Williams was recalled from Triple A.

With Herrera out, who plays center field? 
Andrew McCutchen moved over from left field and was set to start at the position Tuesday night. Williams got the call in left field. This will likely be the way the Phillies go against right-handed pitchers. Against lefties, Kingery will likely start in center field with McCutchen in left. Kapler confirmed that was the plan. Roman Quinn will likely begin a minor-league rehab assignment later this week. He could enter the center field picture when the Phils return from the West Coast on June 7.

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At the Yard podcast: Phillies takeaways from the GM Meetings

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At the Yard podcast: Phillies takeaways from the GM Meetings

Jim Salisbury relays the juiciest info — Phillies and leaguewide — from MLB's GM Meetings in Arizona. Check out the latest At the Yard podcast.

• Scott Boras immediately makes his presence felt

• Biggest takeaways from the GM Meetings

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• Surveying the third base landscape

• Gerrit Cole, Cole Hamels and more

• Odubel Herrera update

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What about Odubel Herrera, the Phillies’ forgotten man?

What about Odubel Herrera, the Phillies’ forgotten man?

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — Odubel Herrera, the Phillies’ forgotten man, is working out in Miami as he seeks to restart his career after an 85-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy.

But can the Phillies, given all that has happened, actually ever put him back on the field again?

“I don't know the answer to that. I really don't,” general manager Matt Klentak said at this week’s annual general managers meetings. “I think the best thing I could say there is, because the landscape has changed, he's going to have to earn whatever he gets. He doesn't walk back in as the opening day center fielder. 

“Right now, he’s on the 40-man roster and under contract so if camp started tomorrow, he would be there. What happens between now and February? I don’t know.”

Herrera, who turns 28 next month, was the Phillies’ starting center fielder for four-plus seasons before his suspension for an incident in May, and he has two years and more than $20 million remaining on his contract. When Major League Baseball and the Players Association forged its joint policy on domestic violence, both sides agreed that a player violating the policy could not have his contract voided. To move on from Herrera, the Phillies would have to eat the remainder of his salary and prove that they were releasing him for purely baseball reasons.

If you listen closely, you can almost hear Klentak building that case.

“I think the most important thing to recognize with Odubel is the situation that he left in the spring when he was suspended and the situation he's coming back to are not the same,” Klentak said. “Because Scott Kingery went out there and played a well-above-average defensive center field for us for spurts last year. Adam Haseley came up from the minor leagues and did a really good job and we still have Roman Quinn, who when healthy is as dynamic as any player in the league. So, whereas Odubel had been the everyday center fielder for a handful of seasons, now all of a sudden there's more of a competition there so the landscape has changed.”

Herrera was an All-Star in 2016 but his performance has declined in subsequent seasons. Dating to August 2018, he has hit just .204 over his last 84 games.

The Phillies still have several months before they have to make a decision on Herrera and with five openings on the 40-man roster, they are not in immediate need of space. It is still possible that Herrera could be traded (with the Phillies eating the bulk of his salary and getting little in return), but other teams will face the same public scrutiny about taking on the player. The Phillies could also option Herrera to Triple A, but that would require keeping him on the 40-man roster and in the organization.

Klentak was careful to point out that Herrera “is an option for us.” But given the gravity of the situation and the time that has passed, one has to wonder if he really is. Time will tell.

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