As expected, Phillies outfielder Odubel Herrera quickly cleared waivers on Thursday. He has been assigned outright to Triple A.
Herrera was designated for assignment on Tuesday. The move immediately removed him from the Phillies’ 40-man roster and cleared a spot for outfielder Nick Martini, who was claimed off waivers from Cincinnati.
Herrera, 28, was involved in a domestic abuse incident in New Jersey in May. Though legal charges were eventually dropped, he served an 85-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s policy against domestic violence. As a matter of procedure, he was reinstated to the 40-man roster in November, but that hardly assured his future with the club, even though he is signed through 2021 and owed $20 million.
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 be punished by being released or having his contract voided.
On Tuesday, Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said there were “sound baseball reasons,” for removing Herrera from the roster. He pointed to Herrera’s inconsistency and struggles last season and the fact that the Phillies had added outfielders Jay Bruce and Adam Haseley to the roster after Herrera’s suspension.
“The construction of our outfield now is very different than it was last spring when Odubel was first suspended,” Klentak said.
The Phillies plan to give Haseley a shot to win the starting centerfield job in spring training. He will be pushed by Roman Quinn.
Herrera could very well be on his way out of the organization, but he’s not there yet. He is expected to report to minor-league spring training camp, where he will continue to collect his full salary while working toward regaining a role with the big-league team or trying to catch the eye of a team that might be interested in trading for him. So far, there has been no trade interest.
Participating in minor-league camp does not ensure that Herrera will be with a Phillies’ minor-league club during the regular season. He can still be released at any time, as long as the Phillies establish that the move is for baseball reasons, as they did earlier this week when they designated him for assignment.