Odubel Herrera's exclusion from the Phillies' initial player pool is further indication that there is no trade interest in the talented but controversial outfielder.
Major League Baseball's operations manual for the shortened 2020 season states that a player can only be traded if he is included in his team's 60-man player pool.
The Phillies used 53 spots in filing their pool with the Commissioner's office on Sunday night. That list is likely to grow in the coming days — in fact, it did Monday with the re-signing of reliever Anthony Swarzak to a minor-league contract — and Herrera could certainly be added. But leaving him off the initial list is telling as it relates to the team's efforts to trade him.
For months, the Phillies have made it clear to teams that Herrera could be had in a trade, but there have been no nibbles — even with the Phillies willing to cover the bulk of his salary.
Herrera accepted an 85-game suspension without pay for violating MLB's policy against domestic violence last season. The policy, agreed on jointly by MLB and the Players Association, forbids releasing a player or voiding his contract for violating the policy. Herrera remains signed through the 2021 season as part of a five-year, $30.5 million contract
Herrera was waived off the Phillies' 40-man roster in January and assigned to the minor leagues, where he was given no guarantee of having a future with the club. In fact, general manager Matt Klentak, on more than one occasion, said Herrera would have to earn anything he got.
Herrera was a participant in minor-league camp when baseball shut down in March.
Herrera was arrested in Atlantic City on May 27, 2019 for assaulting his girlfriend, Melany Martinez-Angulo. The charges were dropped in July and Herrera went through an extensive counseling program.
In late February, Herrera apologized publicly for his actions.
"There's no one who regrets this more than me," the 28-year-old player said. "I wanted to say I'm sorry to the fans and the organization. It's been a lesson learned for me and I want to turn the page and keep going with life."
The Phillies' player pool consists of nine outfielders. Andrew McCutchen and Bryce Harper are firm at the corners and Roman Quinn and Adam Haseley are both expected to get reps in center field.
On Monday, Klentak said Herrera was considered for the current pool and will "continue to gain consideration."
Klentak added, "I think as we get towards the end of spring training, there'll probably be a second wave of players that join and that could include somebody like Odubel."
If baseball were the only consideration, adding Herrera would be a no-brainer, especially if the team sustained an injury or was in need of depth in the outfield. Inclusion in the pool does not guarantee that a player will see game action, but he can continue to train under team supervision with similar depth players once the season begins. The season will begin July 23 or 24. After that, Phillies pool players will work out daily in Lehigh Valley.
But Herrera's situation remains much bigger than a baseball issue and the socially conscious Phillies are very much aware of that. Adding him to the pool is one thing. Having him suit up in the big leagues is another — and it's not clear if the Phillies will ever take that step. Maybe they will. Maybe they won't.
Herrera was due to make $10.3 million before the shutdown this season. (He's on a guaranteed big league contract so that salary will be prorated over 60 games, regardless of whether he’s active or not this season.) He is on the books for nearly $13 million next season. He can be released — for baseball reasons only — at any time.
Or he can be traded — though his exclusion from the current player pool strongly suggests that there is still no interest.
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