ATLANTA — Odubel Herrera’s future with the Phillies is now in the hands of Major League Baseball.
A domestic assault complaint against Herrera was dropped Wednesday in Atlantic City Municipal Court when his 20-year-old girlfriend declined to press charges. But the Phillies center fielder will remain on MLB-mandated paid administrative leave through Friday, according to a source, and the league could still issue a suspension or other discipline pending the completion of an independent investigation by the commissioner’s office.
Per the domestic violence policy negotiated by MLB and the players association in 2015, the commissioner is authorized to discipline a player independent of the findings of a court. There’s precedent for such action, too.
Aroldis Chapman, Addison Russell, and Roberto Osuna are among the players who weren’t convicted on assault charges but still received suspensions of varying lengths, ranging from 30 to 75 games. Boston Red Sox pitcher Steven Wright served a 15-game suspension last season even though his wife dropped assault charges against him.
Because the commissioner’s office is still conducting its investigation, Phillies officials aren’t permitted to comment on Herrera’s status. The team isn’t even privy to many details of the probe, according to general manager Matt Klentak.
“Until the investigation is complete, I’m not prepared to address it,” manager Gabe Kapler said before the Phillies played Wednesday night here at SunTrust Park.
Herrera was arrested May 27 and charged with simple assault after his girlfriend, Melany Martinez-Angulo, told security at the Golden Nugget casino that she had been attacked. Handprint markings and scratches were found on her neck, according to a police report.
In dismissing the case, Municipal Court Judge Billie J. Moore said Herrera would have to complete 60 days of counseling.
MLB placed Herrera on a seven-day administrative leave on May 28 and has extended the leave three times. The league can either extend it again or issue a ruling this weekend. Klentak said last week that he believed the commissioner’s office was waiting for Herrera’s court appearance before taking any action.
Although Herrera would have to abide by the commissioner’s ruling, he would have the right to appeal if the Phillies chose to issue additional discipline.
Herrera is owed approximately $23 million through the 2021 season. The Phillies could trade Herrera, but they would be responsible for paying the remainder of his contract if they released him.
“From a roster-building perspective, we need to assume that we’re not going to have Odubel anytime soon,” Klentak said last week. “And if we do, then we’ll adjust to that. But I don’t think we can go into this counting on him by a certain date or performing at a certain level. To do that would not be wise.”