Aaron Altherr was designated for assignment by the Phillies earlier this afternoon when the team activated centerfielder Odubel Herrera from the injured list. The 28-year-old backup outfielder had only one hit in 29 at-bats this season. His average dipped to .034 with a .136 OPS in 2019 before his release, following a disappointing 2018 season in which he hit only .181 over 285 plate appearances.
That’s just not going to cut it.
Altherr’s size, speed, and power once made him an intriguing player, particularly after he posted an .856 OPS with 48 total extra-base hits during his age-26 season in 2017. Maybe he still realizes his potential and returns to that same form, but it won’t be with the Phillies.
Manager Gabe Kapler discussed the team’s decision to part ways with Altherr ahead of tonight’s game with the Washington Nationals.
“First, we wish Aaron well and believe that this is what’s best for him and the Phillies. We think he can still be a productive player. This situation here with us, it was very difficult for him to get on the field,” Kapler said.
He also cited the presence of bench players Phil Gosselin and Sean Rodriguez as a primary reason why the team made the decision to move on.
“They both can play the role, right? Sean has certainly been productive in that role in the past. You can go back and dig up several years of history that suggest he’s a pretty good offensive player against left-handed pitching,” he said.
For what it’s worth, Rodriguez has a .768 career OPS against left-handed pitching.
From my perspective, the decision to go with Rodriguez feels like a no-brainer. He’s had some nice ABs this season, and, I mean, how long can you wait on Altherr? But Kapler also mentioned Scott Kingery’s continued absence as a factor.
“The roster fit just kind of makes a little bit more sense right now with Scott not there, we need somebody who can back up at shortstop, and Sean has the capability to do that,” he said. “Gosselin has swung the bat really well for us. We think he’s a good hitter and we need that offensive profile off the bench. 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.”
Odubel is Back, But Not in Lineup
As for Herrera, he’s available tonight, but isn’t in the starting lineup. Says Gabe on the decision to hold him out: “It felt like not the softest landing spot for Odubel. You haven’t been in game action for awhile 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.”
How nasty is that slider? Opponents produced a .148 BA and .438 OPS against it last season, and left-handed hitters have a combined .567 OPS against Corbin this season.
Jimmy Rollins and Larry Bowa Reunite
Had an opportunity to catch this cool reunion outside the media elevators before tonight’s game. Jimmy Rollins and Larry Bowa, together again.
Phillies to Wear Jimmy Rollins Patch Tonight
Kapler gave some updates on the loooong list of Phillies still battling injuries:
- Relief pitcher Victor Arano made 30 throws from a short distance. It was a “positive development.”
- Scott Kingery ran at “about 70 percent.” Also “a positive development.”
- Tommy Hunter did some gripping exercises.
- Nothing new on David Robertson, but “appears to be on track.”
Don’t get too excited about those last two updates. We’re still probably at least a few weeks away from seeing Robertson or Hunter.