Klentak: Haseley likely Phillies' starting CF

December 16th, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- The moment Didi Gregorius agreed to a one-year, $14 million contract Tuesday, the Phillies finalized their 2020 infield.

They always had their outfield. Bryce Harper will man right field. Andrew McCutchen will play left. And center?

"I expect that Adam Haseley is going to be our regular center fielder," Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said Wednesday afternoon at the Winter Meetings. "But having said that, I recognize that when Roman Quinn is healthy and playing to his potential, it's hard to take him out of the lineup. I think that combination of players likely takes down the majority of our center field reps this year."

Haseley, 23, hit .266 with five home runs, 26 RBIs and a .720 OPS in 242 plate appearances last season as a rookie. He had a .792 OPS in his final 87 plate appearances, which the Phillies hope is a sign of things to come. Defensively, Haseley graded out well, too.

Quinn, 26, has loads of talent, but he hasn't stayed healthy for extended periods of time. In the second half of 2019, he hit .286/.366/.540 with four home runs, nine RBIs and five stolen bases in 72 plate appearances before straining his right groin in August.

Not mentioned? Odubel Herrera. He served an 85-game suspension last season for violating the league's domestic abuse policy. The Collective Bargaining Agreement dictates that Herrera must be evaluated from a baseball standpoint, meaning the Phillies cannot release him just to move on.

If Herrera is with the team when camp opens in February -- so far the Phillies have had no interest from teams regarding a trade -- Klentak said that Herrera's spot on the team is far from guaranteed, despite making a guaranteed $7 million next season and $10 million in 2021.

"He's getting paid," Klentak said. "The best way I can answer that, and you may have heard me say this before, not specifically because of his suspension, but when he left the team in the spring, he was the everyday center fielder and what he's coming back to now is a much different situation. … Anything that happens from here on out is going to be performance driven, and he has to earn whatever he's going to get. His standing on our club is impacted by both how he performs, but also what happens around him. Some of this is within his control, and some of it is not."

Herrera hit a combined .249 with a .711 OPS the past two seasons. He had a .629 OPS in 39 games before his suspension last season.

Jay Bruce will be the team's fourth outfielder, capable of playing in the corners. Nick Williams remains on the 40-man roster, although it is difficult to see how he fits behind Harper, McCutchen, Haseley, Bruce and Quinn.

"It's probably a good thing for him to turn the page from last year and come in and get a fresh start," Klentak said about Williams. "There will be opportunities this year. Are they Opening Day or during the season? I don't know. But there will be opportunities for him. I'm pretty confident in that."

But Haseley is the man in center entering Spring Training. He will have every opportunity to prove himself.

"He had some ups and downs," Klentak said. "It wasn't a perfect rookie season. But I think he gives a real good at-bat. He's got a very good idea of the strike zone -- he had that as an amateur and he started to show it at the big league level. I know his walk-to-strikeout totals weren't great, but I think if you watch his at-bats, I think you can see he has that skill and I think as he starts to become more comfortable at this level, we'll start to see that more and more. I was also impressed with his defense.

"He fit in very well with our club. The veteran guys really liked him. He's quiet, but he really is a good teammate, works hard and I think when you look at the body of work over three months that he was in the big leagues, that's a pretty impressive rookie season. I think there's reason for optimism that he'll be better than that, but that was a pretty good rookie season."