One of the keys for a front office is knowing exactly when to sign a player to a contract extension. Sign them too early and they could fizzle out and you've wasted a lot of money. Wait too long and they may decide to just take their chances on arbitration or free agency. The Phillies are hoping that this offseason is the perfect time to sign Odubel Herrera to a new contract.
The deal will pay Herrera $30.5-million over five years, but could balloon to seven years and $52-million should the Phillies exercise two option years to keep him in town through the 2022 season. Herrera also received a $1.75-million signing bonus.
If Herrera continues to progress as a major league outfielder, the deal could be a very good one for the Phillies, since he would likely have garnered significant raises through arbitration, which he would have been eligible for following the 2017 season. Originally, Herrera would have qualified for free agency following the 2020 season, which would still happen if the Phillies don't pick up the option on 2021.
Conversely, Herrera is taking the guaranteed money versus risking losing that money because of an injury or a drop in productivity.
"Anytime an organization signs a player to a five-year extension, there are a lot of contributing factors," GM Matt Klentak told the media at a press conference. "In its simplest form, this deal boiled down to two things; what type of player Odubel is and what type of person Odubel is."
The Phillies grabbed Herrera in the 2014 Rule 5 Draft from the Texas Rangers, who left him exposed even though he was coming off a huge season at the Double-A level. At the time, Herrera was a second baseman, with below average defensive abilities and the Phillies immediately made the decision to move him to center field, where he quickly adapted and has developed well defensively at the position.
Coming into the offseason, Herrera was a trade chip for the Phillies and other teams have confirmed that he was made available. Instead, Klentak turned down any offers and went back to signing Herrera long-term, which he initially started to work on during the Summer. The latest negotiations started around Thanksgiving.
It was confirmed that the deal does not include a no-trade clause, meaning that the Phillies could revisit the possibility of dealing Herrera down the road. In fact, the new contract could make him a more valuable trade piece down the road, since he would be signed at a fixed amount of money. The Phillies do have a number of good young outfielders in the organization and it's not unlikely that Herrera could be challenged by one of them at some point.
In two seasons with the Phillies, Herrera has hit 23-90-.291/.353.,419 with the Phillies and has a career fielding percentage of .981, under the major league average of .989 over the past two years.