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May 30, 2019

If Phillies opt to replace Odubel Herrera, here are their best realistic options

The Phillies are in a tough situation with outfielder Odubel Herrera, who despite his hitting struggles was one of the team's three best outfielders.

Struggles off the field have landed him on "Administrative Leave" and it seems doubtful the team will have him back, due to disturbing domestic violence issues. The Phillies have called Nick Williams and his left-handed bat back up after a short stint in the minors following a lack of production with the big league club thus far this year.

And even though Roman Quinn is slated to return sometime soon, the Phillies are short-handed in the outfield and on their bench, where they continue to sport the second worst hitting cast of pinch hitters in all of baseball.

The team has three paths it can pursue to address the roster issue. First they can do nothing. Second, they can look for help via a trade. And third, they can promote one of their recent high draft picks a bit earlier than expected.

We'll look at No. 2 later, but for now, let's examine their trade options.

The following eight outfielders we will detail all fit most of the following criteria. They are:

  1. Playing well
  2. On an expiring contract
  3. Play for a team that will miss the playoffs
  4. Are a relatively good fit for the Phillies (left-handed bat, some power)
Here's a look at who we came up with:

Nick Castellanos, RF, Tigers

A 29-year-old outfielder and third baseman, Castellanos is due just under $10 million this year and will be a free agent next season. He is hitting .269 so far in Detroit with five homers. During his entire seven-year career with the Tigers he's eclipsed 20 homers twice and 30 doubles four times. 

The Phils would likely value his ability to play multiple positions and he clearly has the pop they want in Citizens Bank Park. They may prefer a lefty, but of the righties available he's at the top of the list.

Yasiel Puig, RF, Reds

Puig, as we detailed earlier this week, is having a rough year for the last-place Reds and could use a change of scenery. He hits from the right side and has power we can all remember from his playoff adventures with the Dodgers.

There are some character issues here, but with his expiring deal Cincinnati may be willing to sell him on the cheap.

Alex Gordon, LF, Royals

Gordon technically fits the bill for what the Phillies need. He is a corner outfielder who hits from the left side of the plate. He has power (nine homers and 37 RBI so far) and is a pretty good hitter, with a .280 clip thus far in 2019. His contract makes it a little tricky. He is due $20 million this season and has a $20 million mutual option that can be bought out for $4 million before next season. He is also 35-years-old.

Gordon is exactly what the Phillies need, and with his age and contract each being so high the Phils may be able to get him relatively cheap. However it is a big risk, and his acquisition could hamper their financial flexibility should they want to add a pitcher near the trade deadline.

Curtis Granderson, LF, Marlins

Granderson has six home runs and not much else as he looks to be on the way out of professional baseball in his age 38 season. He is hitting just .188, but is a left-handed hitter with a .262 career average as a pinch hitter in 133 tries. 

His deal is very cheap ($1.75 million) and the Marlins would probably take anything they can get for him. Despite his short-comings in 2019 he would still be an upgrade off the bench for the Phillies.

Melky Cabrera, LF, Pirates

Cabrera may fit the bill perfectly — should Pittsburgh decide it can't compete anymore in a loaded NL Central (they are hovering around .500). Though 37, Cabrera is on an expiring contract and a team-friendly one at that making just $1.15 million this season.

He is a switch hitter and has been beyond productive at the plate, hitting .323 in just over 150 plate appearances. His only knock stat-wise is his lack of elite power — he has just three homers and 16 RBI.

Jay Bruce, RF, Mariners

If the Phillies want pure left-handed power, Bruce is the way to go. On the last year of his current contract, the 32-year-old has 13 homers already this year — the same number as Rhys Hoskins. However he really is the definition of a "pure outcomes" guy, as he either hits a homer, walks or strikes out (he has 52 of them). 

Bruce is hitting just .206 in Seattle, where he has actually shown a little versatility playing DH, right field, left field, and first base. If he is okay with a bench role mixed in with an occasional start the Phillies may have their match.

Hunter Pence, RF, Rangers

Remember Pence? The one-time Phillies' fan favorite is still in the league and is playing surprisingly well, hitting .306 as an every day starter at the ripe age of 36. With the Rangers way behind in the AL West, Pence and his expiring contract may be a prime trade candidate.

He has 11 homers and 39 RBI this season, with 21 of his starts this year coming as the DH and the other 23 in the corner outfield spots.

Howie Kendrick, LF, Nationals

Kendrick is another re-tread, having played in Philly briefly back in 2017. He is crushing it with the Nationals, the team to whom the Phils traded him mid-season. Hitting .328 with nine homers and 33 RBI, the Nationals would need to be convinced they are out of the NL East race before they started selling. 

At 35, Kendrick is in the second year of a $9 million contract and would become a free agent at season's end.

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