By now, you’ve definitely heard that Odúbel Herrera was arrested on simple assault charges on Monday night in Atlantic City, which led to him being placed on administrative leave.
If general manager Matt Klentak does the right thing and gets rid of Herrera, that’ll leave the Phillies with no true center fielder on the roster ready to go. But, they do have some options as far as replacing Herrera.
In the first game without the incumbent center fielder, Phillies manager Gabe Kapler had Andrew McCutchen play center field and Nick Williams in left field against veteran right-handed pitcher Adam Wainwright. Against left-handed pitcher Genesis Cabrera, Kapler intends to start Scott Kingery in center with McCutchen in left. Until Roman Quinn makes his return from the injured list, which is expected to be later this week, this looks like the only move – starting Williams against righties and Kingery against lefties. Once Quinn is added to the active roster, I expect even more platooning of the three players with the only everyday player being McCutchen be it in left or center field.
No matter how you look at it, filling the hole in center field both offensively and defensively is something that just shot up the priority list for Klentak. Here are some options that he could go with:
Deal with what you have now and promote from within
This isn’t my favorite option if we’re being honest. McCutchen isn’t a true center fielder any more, Kingery is doing his best but he’s a natural infielder (read: second baseman) and Quinn is liable to hurt himself running to the outfield.
This option does have some upside, though. Imagine if Williams or Kingery can become contributors to the offense, that should more than make up for the shortfalls on defense. More upside, this won’t cost the Phillies anything money or prospect wise.
The name to be on the lookout for is Adam Haseley, the first round draft pick from 2017 draft. Haseley has been flying through the minor league ranks and recently earned a promotion to Triple-A Lehigh Valley Ironpigs.
— Reading Fightins (@ReadingFightins) May 29, 2019
A promotion to Triple-A at this point in time means he could find his way to Philadelphia some time this summer. One of the things that makes him valuable to this club is his ability to play all three outfield positions.
The other thing is he has hit everywhere he’s been. In 2018 he had 513 plate appearances between the Clearwater Threshers and the Reading Fightin’ Phils. In those at bats he slashed .305/.361/.433/.795 with 22 extra base hits, 11 homeruns and 55 RBIs. If he can keep this up at the Lehigh Valley he could be a key contributor offensively and defensively to a contending team.
Make a trade
This is where Klentak can get a little more creative with finding a new center fielder. Unfortunately every general manager in baseball knows his hands are tied, trading for a center fielder could prove costly to Klentak and Co.
A name I would look out for is Billy Hamilton. I know, I know, Hamilton is borderline useless offensively. While his best offensive slash numbers came in 2016 where he went .260/.321/.343/.664 with three homeruns and 17 RBIs, his best offensive season was the following year. Despite a lesser slash line, he hit four homeruns and had 38 RBIs while stealing 59 bases.
Hamilton is currently 28 and plays on the Kansas City Royals, a team that’s in the basement of the American League Central division. With the Royals going nowhere fast, I could see them selling Hamilton fairly cheap considering he’s a defensive specialist at this point. I wouldn’t mind sending a low-end prospect or two to the Royals for a few months of Billy Hamilton playing shut down defense in center field. If the offense can perform at the levels we know they’re capable of, having a weak link who is one of the best defensive outfielders in the league should be an easy pill to swallow.
There are other options out there for trade but this is one I think could work for both parties. For the foreseeable future, though, be prepared to see a platoon of Kingery, Williams and McCutchen in left and center fields.