Philadelphia Phillies All-Star outfielder Odubel Herrera was arrested May 27 and charged with simple assault after a domestic violence dispute in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
An Atlantic City police report said that Herrera, 27, caused “minor injuries” to his girlfriend and left “handprint markings to her neck area and small scratches to her arms.”
The incident occurred at the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino Monday night while he was with his 20-year-old girlfriend. Police responded to a domestic disturbance call and arrested Herrera in his hotel room without incident. According to Matt Gelb of The Athletic, Herrera was released on summons, and his first court date is currently scheduled for June 17.
The Phillies released a statement that said they immediately reported the incident to Major League Baseball and MLB Players Association, and that “[they] take any domestic violence dispute seriously and support the Joint Domestic Policy agreed upon by MLB and MLBPA.”
The player was placed on administrative leave May 28. He is currently scheduled to be on the list for a week while the league office investigates the case. From there, his stay on leave can be extended, he can be reinstated or he can be suspended.
The MLB and MLBPA created a new domestic violence policy in 2015, but suspensions are handed on a case-by-case basis. Most recently in September 2018, Cubs’ infielder Addison Russell was suspended 40 games for domestic abuse.
Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said, “domestic violence is never acceptable.” The manager held a team meeting to discuss the issue of domestic violence. Kapler himself has made philanthropic efforts to stop domestic violence through his charity, the Gabe Kapler Foundation.
“It’s incredibly disturbing. It is unacceptable every time,” he stressed.
Herrera has also been removed from the ballot for the upcoming 2019 MLB All-Star Game in Cleveland. While on leave, he will continue to collect his $5.35 million salary for this season, but he will not take occupy a roster spot. If suspended, he will not receive pay during that time.
In accordance with this, the Phillies have called up lefty outfielder Nick Williams from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Second-year player Scott Kingery and Williams will both find playing time in the new-look outfield. Williams is likely to play in left field, with veteran Andrew McCutchen moving into center, when the team faces right-handed starting pitching. Kingery will play center field mostly on days when facing a lefty and will continue to play around the diamond.
Herrera, a five-year veteran, came to the Phillies in 2015 as a Rule 5 draft selection. Originally a second baseman, Herrera was converted into a center fielder and became a promising young player for the Phillies. The lefty was the Phillies lone representative in the 2016 All-Star game, and due to his strong play, earned a five-year $30.5 million contract that year.
During his time in the big leagues, Herrea has been a complicated player. He shows flashes of brilliance followed by stretches where he looks completely lost. He has even been benched multiple times throughout his career for a lack of hustle or poor decision making.
This season, Herrera has been struggling even more, slashing a dreadful .222/.288/.341 so far. The outfielder also suffered a hamstring injury, which sidelined him for a while and was beginning to lose play time to Kingery.
Herrera has received much criticism from the fan base for his poor play this year. He has struggled to hit with runners in scoring position, has shown terrible at-bats where he swings at everything and has showcased a lack of communication in the outfield. Many fans were beginning to feel uneasy toward Herrera. After this recent news, some are calling for his release from the team.
Phillies’ General Manager Matt Klentak was asked if this is the last of Herrera as a player for the Phillies. “I think that’s premature to speculate at this point,” Klentak said.“There’s not enough information about what happened.”
Releasing Herrera is more complicated than it seems, as contracts in baseball are guaranteed. Even if Herrera is found guilty and suspended, his contract will not be voided. If the Phillies do release him, they will be on the hook for over $20 million. But while it may hurt the coffers, it may be worth it to send a message that the organization does not tolerate domestic violence.
For now, the Phillies cannot let this situation become a distraction. The Phillies lead the National League East and are continuing their long stretch of games against some of the NL’s best teams.
That continues as the Phillies start a series in California against the Los Angles Dodgers. The Dodgers are the only team above the Phillies in the NL standings, and they feature an explosive offensive led by MVP candidate Cody Bellinger. This is the Phillies first chance to measure up with the Dodgers and show that they are one of the best teams in the league.