The Phillies activated centerfielder Odubel Herrera from the injured list on Saturday. To make room for Herrera, the Phillies cut loose a longtime member of the organization, outfielder Aaron Altherr.
Altherr, 28, was drafted by the Phillies in 2009 and first made it to the majors with the club in 2014. A gifted athlete blessed with a strong collection of tools, Altherr had trouble finding consistency over the years and the Phillies reached the point where they felt they had better options off their bench.
“He got a pretty good chunk of playing time last year and wasn’t as productive as his ability suggests he can be,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “We just couldn’t get Aaron going and we needed somebody who … Let’s just say it was difficult to find him reps and the other guys were doing a really good job. It’s as simple as that.”
In 29 at-bats this season, Altherr had just one hit and nine strikeouts.
Altherr was technically designated for assignment. The Phillies have seven days in which to dispose of his contract. It would not be surprising to see him traded. There are clubs that like his skills and one might be interested in acquiring him, though the return likely would not be significant. If Altherr is not traded, he could be placed on waivers and claimed by another club. If he clears waivers, he could conceivably remain in the organization and go to Triple A, where he'd continue to collect his $1.35 million salary, or choose free agency and hook on with another organization.
Kapler feels comfortable with two newcomers, Sean Rodriguez and Phil Gosselin, in reserve roles. Both have given the Phils good at-bats off the bench.
Both players were in the starting lineup on Saturday night as Kapler stacked the right-handed bats against Washington lefty Patrick Corbin. Andrew McCutchen was in center field, Gosselin in left and Rodriguez at second base. Herrera, a lefty bat, did not start.
“It felt like not the softest landing spot for Odubel,” Kapler said. “You haven’t been in game action for a while and we’re going to throw you out there against last year’s best left-handed pitcher with a nasty slider. It just didn’t feel like the right recipe to start him off on the right foot. The game is not five or six innings long, it’s nine and sometimes more. So there might be a big at-bat against a right-hander pitcher that Odubel gets later in game.”
Altherr is a gifted defender and can handle center field. Kapler believes the Phils have enough depth at that position. McCutchen has shown he can still slide over there and be dependable. Rodriguez can handle the position in a pinch. Ditto for Scott Kingery, who should come off the IL before the end of May.
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