PHILADELPHIA -- Aaron Altherr's breakout 2017 season included 19 home runs, 65 RBIs and an .856 OPS, which remains the second-highest OPS among Phillies players with at least 400 plate appearances in any season since 2010.
On Saturday, the Phillies designated Altherr for assignment to make room for Odúbel Herrera on the 25-man roster. Herrera had been on the 10-day injured list since April 18 because of a strained right hamstring. Altherr hit .034 with a .136 OPS in 30 plate appearances this season, following a .181 batting average with a .628 OPS in 285 plate appearances last year. He had fallen behind outfielders Bryce Harper, Andrew McCutchen, Herrera, Nick Williams and Roman Quinn on the Phillies’ depth chart.
“We wish Aaron well and believe this is what’s best for him and, obviously, the Phillies,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said before Saturday night’s game against the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park. “We think he can still be a productive player. Just the situation here with us, it was very difficult for him to even get on the field, even to the point of having difficulty finding him pinch-hit at-bats. Given how well [Sean] Rodriguez and [Phil] Gosselin were doing in that role, it just became more and more difficult for us to find him that opportunity and we feel like he’s going to be better suited to find it in a different place.”
When a player's contract is designated for assignment -- often abbreviated "DFA" -- that player is immediately removed from his club's 40-man roster, and 25-man roster if he was on that as well. Within seven days of the transaction (it was previously 10 days), the player must either be traded, released or placed on irrevocable outright waivers.
The Phillies also figure they have enough depth in center field because Herrera, McCutchen, Scott Kingery and even Rodriguez can play there. Rodriguez and Gosselin also are veterans that can play multiple positions, and might be better suited in a pinch-hitting role.
“The roster fit just makes a little more sense right now,” Kapler said. “We just couldn’t get Aaron going and we needed somebody who … let’s just say it was difficult to find him reps, and the other guys were doing a really good job. It’s as simple as that.
“He got a pretty good chunk of playing time last year and wasn’t as productive as his ability suggests he can be. We tried various ways to help him make adjustments. We weren’t able to get there with him. It’s something that we have to own.”
• Right-hander Victor Arano (right elbow inflammation) made 30 throws from a short distance. Kapler said it went well.
“A positive,” Kapler said.
• Kingery (strained right hamstring) ran at about 70 percent. He is progressing.