It seemed unlikely Odubel Herrera would play again this season, but now it’s official with the Phillies’ outfielder suspended for 85 games.
It might qualify as news dump late Friday afternoon of a holiday weekend, but according to multiple reports Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Odubel Herrera has been suspended 85 games for violating Major League Baseball’s joint domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy.
Herrera was arrested in Atlantic City, New Jersey on May 27 after an incident with his girlfriend that caused her visible injury. He was immediately place on administrative leave, which was just extended a third time, through Friday, earlier this week. For what it’s worth charges against him, including simple assault and knowingly causing bodily injury, were dropped on Wednesday because the plaintiff (Herrera’s girlfriend) doesn’t want to move forward with them.
The suspension is retroactive to June 24, and will span the rest of the 2019 season from that point (85 games) and any playoff games the Phillies may play. Entering Friday, they are 6.5 games back in the NL East and a half-game back of the second Wild Card.
MLB’s punishment for violations of the domestic violence policy have been all over the place. Aroldis Chapman was the first player suspended under the policy and got 30 games back in 2016, with no postseason ban, and Roberto Asuna got 75 games with no postseason ban just last year. Jose Torres (100 games) and Hector Olivera (82 games) have also been given lengthy suspensions under the policy.
Herrera is under contract with the Phillies at least through 2021, with club options for 2022 and 2023. The suspension will cost him a shade over half ($2.6 million) of his $5 million salary for 2019. He is slated to make $7 million next season and $10 million in 2021, with a $2.5 million buyout of the 2022 option netting him at least $19.5 million going forward.
If the Phillies want to cut ties with Herrera, as laid out nicely by Meghan Montemurro of The Athletic (subscription required), their immediate options are limited. Outright releasing him would be viewed as double jeopardy, unless he and the team reach some kind of an agreement since it can’t be deemed to be strictly based on performance (though he was hitting just .222 this season). Trading him, now or more likely in the offseason once his suspension is clear, stands as a possibility.