The Phillies have announced that they have declined their club options on outfielders Andrew McCutchen and Odubel Herrera for the 2022 season. McCutchen will receive a $3MM buyout rather than a $15MM salary next year, and Herrera has been bought out for $2.5MM rather than a $11.5MM salary.
Today’s decision closes the book on the three-year, $50MM free agent contract McCutchen signed with the Phils in December 2018, a deal that ended up as something of a mixed bag. Both sides might wonder what have been had McCutchen not suffered a torn ACL in June 2019, as the veteran had gotten off to a very strong start in his first 59 games in a Phillies uniform.
Since returning from injury rehab, McCutchen has provided above-average (106 wRC+, 107 OPS+) offense and hit .232/.331/.441 with 37 home runs over 815 PA in 2020-21. It isn’t bad production by any stretch, though McCutchen’s .222 batting average in 2021 was a career low, and defensive metrics didn’t like his glovework as the Phillies’ regular left fielder.
Between these diminished numbers and the fact that McCutchen turned 35 in October, he might have to settle for a one-year deal this offseason. That said, McCutchen will surely catch on somewhere, quite probably with a contender that will value having one of the game’s most respected players in the clubhouse to provide some veteran leadership. A return to Philadelphia might not be out of the question, even if the Phillies would certainly rather pay “Cutch” a great deal less than $15MM.
Herrera is still under team control via one final year of salary arbitration, but since he is projected to earn $11.6MM, the Phillies are likely to non-tender Herrera and end their seven-year association with the outfielder. Selected away from the Rangers in the 2014 Rule 5 draft, Herrera earned an All-Star nod in 2016, which led the Phils to sign him to a five-year, $30.5MM extension in December 2016.
However, Herrera was arrested on assault charges related to domestic violence in May 2019, and while the charges were dropped, the league suspended Herrera under the purview of the MLB/MLBPA Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy. Herrera missed the rest of the 2019 season due to the 85-game suspension, and also didn’t play in 2020 when the Phillies outrighted him off their 40-man roster. It seemed as if the Phillies were ready to part ways with Herrera, though he re-emerged in 2021 to play 124 games for the team, hitting .260/.310/.416 over 492 plate appearances.
If neither McCutchen or Herrera are brought back, the Phillies are in drastic need of outfielders to line up alongside Bryce Harper. Existing in-house options (Mickey Moniak, Adam Haseley, Travis Jankowski, Roman Quinn, Matt Vierling) don’t hold a lot of appeal as regular big league options, so outfield figures to be a key target for president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski this offseason.