PHILADELPHIA -- El Torito is going to be part of the Phillies' future for a long time.
The Phillies announced Thursday afternoon that center fielder Odúbel Herrera has signed a five-year contract extension through the 2021 season. It includes club options for '22 and '23. A source said the deal is worth $30.5 million with an $11.5 million club option for '22 and a $12.5 million club option for '23.
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Herrera, 24, would have been eligible to become a free agent following the 2020 season. He is the only Phillies player signed beyond 2017.
The contract provides cost certainty for the Phillies, who bought out Herrera's three salary-arbitration seasons, plus his first year of free agency. It also allows them to extend their relationship with the two club options. The Phillies and Herrera will hold a news conference Friday to discuss the deal.
The deal obviously provides financial security for Herrera, too.
Herrera hit .286 with 21 doubles, six triples, 15 home runs, 49 RBIs, 25 stolen bases and a .781 OPS in 2016. He also earned a spot on the National League All-Star team and was a finalist for a Gold Glove Award. Herrera's 8.0 Wins Above Replacement over his first two seasons ranks 64th among all big leaguers since 1901 and second among Phillies players in that time, according to Baseball-Reference.com.
Only Dick Allen (8.8 WAR from 1963-64) is higher. Not bad for the eighth pick in the 2014 Rule 5 Draft.
The Phillies thought they selected a legitimate prospect in that Rule 5 Draft. They had seen Herrera previously when he played in the Rangers' Minor League system, which the Phillies knew well not only through their scouts' normal runs through it, but because they had prepared for a potential trade involving Cole Hamels.
Herrera won the Double-A Texas League batting title in 2014 and continued to hit in winter ball in Venezuela.
"There was some concern on our part that he wouldn't get to eight," Phillies professional scouting director Mike Ondo said in July.
Fortunately for the Phillies, their special assistant of player personnel, Jorge Velandia, managed Herrera's winter ball team. Velandia got to know Herrera as a person and watched him hit and play in the outfield. Velandia's reports on Herrera as an outfielder were critical, because nobody else in the organization had seen him play there. Herrera came up through Texas' system as a second baseman.
It was Herrera's potential as an outfielder, based on Velandia's recommendation, that helped sell the Phillies.
"I'll be honest, we liked the player," Ondo said, "but a lot had to do with the outfield and knowing the person, knowing what you were getting in the player. That was a huge assist. We were real fortunate that Jorge was there to give us that information."