The Philadelphia Phillies made a major statement today regarding their long-term lineup. And in the same move, the team was making a commitment to one of their key players.
The club announced the signing of outfielder Odubel Herrera to a five-year contract with a pair of team options.
Sources say that the deal, which runs through 2021 with options for 2022 and 2023, will guarantee him $30.5 million.
The contract buys Herrera out of his arbitration years. He would have been first eligible prior to the 2018 season.
Herrera turns 25 years old at the end of this month, so this takes him through his age 29 season, and possibly into his early 30’s.
Nicknamed ‘El Torito’, Herrera was the Phillies lone representative this season on the National League All-Star team.
He finished the year with a .286/.361/.420 slash line. Herrera slashed 21 doubles and six triples, banged out 15 homers, and swiped 25 bases. He scored 87 runs and knocked in 49 over 656 plate appearances.
After the season concluded, Herrera was nominated for the first time for an NL Gold Glove Award for his play in center field.
While Herrera will play center field for the Phillies in 2017, his future may be on a corner. An ideal plan for the club would probably find Roman Quinn taking over in center, with Herrera possibly shifting to left field.
There had been a number of interesting questions regarding Herrera this off-season. Some speculated that he could be moved back in to play his original position of second base. And there were a number of trade possibilities bandied about at various times. None of that speculation ever came from the team itself, however.
This move clearly shows that the Phillies believe in Herrera as a building block for their next contending team. He is the only position player to whom the club is committed over that long term.
So who might be next? Well, the Phillies have to be at least considering Maikel Franco, though they may want to wait into next season. Also, starting pitcher Jerad Eickhoff deserves to at least be considered for some type of longer term commitment from the team.