The Phillies have begun the process of tightening their roster in preparation for what figures to be a busy winter as they look to put together a team that can break a 10-year postseason drought in 2022.
The team on Wednesday declined 2022 options on the contracts of outfielders Andrew McCutchen and Odubel Herrera. McCutchen could have made $15 million in 2022. The Phils bought it out for $3 million. Herrera could have made $11.5 million in 2022. The Phils bought that out for $2.5 million.
McCutchen is a free agent.
Herrera remains part of the Phillies organization for at least another month as he is eligible for salary arbitration. However, the team could pass on offering him a contract on December 2 and that would make him a free agent.
McCutchen signed a three-year, $50 million contract with the Phillies in December 2018. He played brilliantly for the first two-plus months of the 2019 season and was one of the top leadoff men in the game before suffering a season-ending left knee injury in early June of that season. McCutchen had surgery to repair the torn ACL and returned in 2020, but he was not the same player.
McCutchen spent most of 2021 hitting in the middle of the Phillies’ batting order and he produced 27 home runs and 80 RBIs. However, he hit .222, including just .186 with a .650 OPS against right-handed pitching. McCutchen hit .293 with a 1.027 OPS against lefties. At 35, he could help a club in a platoon role next season, but that team probably won’t be the Phillies.
Herrera hit .260 with a .726 OPS in 124 games in 2021. It’s likely that the Phils will look for an upgrade in center field this winter. They are on record as saying they would like to upgrade in the leadoff spot, a position in which Herrera made 63 starts.
Herrera, who turns 30 in December, joined the Phillies as a Rule 5 selection out of the Texas organization in 2014 and blossomed into a National League All-Star in 2016. The team awarded him a five-year, $30.5 million contract after that season, but Herrera did not live up to the faith that the club showed him – on or off the field. On the field, his production slipped. Off the field, he served an 85-game suspension in 2019 for violating Major League Baseball’s policy against domestic abuse and did not return to the majors until 2021, the final guaranteed year of his contract. That return was accompanied by much controversy. With their contractual obligation to Herrera now complete, the team could move on from him.
The Phillies will continue to churn their roster in the coming days. Pitchers Zach Eflin and JoJo Romero, first baseman Rhys Hoskins and outfielder Roman Quinn must all come off the 60-day injured list and be restored to the 40-man roster. That will create a domino effect with other players becoming free agents.