A Core Commitment
On Thursday, the Phillies gazed into the long-term future of the franchise. What they saw was Odubel Herrera, roaming the outfield grass of Citizens Bank Park, tossing live baseballs into the stands while daydreaming about his next bat flip. Would it come on a home run? A pop-up? A called strike three? There’s only so much you can know about the future. But convinced that Herrera would be a part of it, the Phillies decided to offer the young outfielder a long-term contract that potentially keeps him in Philadelphia through the end of the 2023 season.
The extension represents something of a milestone in the rebuild. The Phillies have spent the last few years trading away the elderly, waiting on expensive contracts to mercifully expire, and shopping off the free agent clearance rack. By staking their claim to Herrera for the next seven years, the organization is signaling that a young, core piece has been found. The rebuild is on the upswing.
As to the terms of the contract, team-friendly is an apt descriptor. The guaranteed portion of the deal requires the Phillies to pay Herrera $30.5 million over the course of the next five years. If an errant bat flip hasn’t derailed his career by the end of that guarantee, there are two club options of $11.5 and $12.5 million to be exercised. All told, the Phillies locked Herrera in for the next seven years at $52 million – with a $2.5 million buyout after year five – a substantial bargain if he maintains any semblance of his recent production.
Barring the newfound wealth affecting Herrera’s on field performance, the contract will have little impact on the coming year. But a few years down the line, when the Phillies are making real decisions as they butt up against the luxury tax, having an effective center fielder on a $6.1 million AAV contract is going to look really smart.