White Sox reportedly sign Kelvin Herrera

White Sox reportedly sign Kelvin Herrera

Another winter, another former Royals closer acquired

While going from Seattle to Chicago might’ve been a step down in win totals, Alex Colome looked forward to the idea of regaining the closer role for himself.

With Kelvin Herrera in the fold, he might have to share it.

Jeff Passan broke the news, reporting that the White Sox signed Herrera to a two-year, $18 million deal with a vesting third-year option. Ken Rosenthal added that the 2021 option pushes the total value of the deal to $27 million if fulfilled. The agreement is pending a physical.

It’s a decent price for the 29-year-old, who was signed by the Royals out of the Dominican Republic, and developed into a linchpin of the bullpen that keyed Kansas City’s ascent to a world title. He spent the first six seasons with the Royals, but a seventh was cut short by a trade to Washington.

Said seventh season was also ultimately abbreviated by a torn Lisfranc ligament in his left foot, which he suffered on Aug. 25:

When healthy, Herrera is effective, if slightly homer-prone. His fastball has lost a tick and a half from its 98 mph peak during the Royals’ heyday, but he throws both a slider and a changeup to maintain even splits against righties and lefties, and it gives him a chance of making any decline a gradual one.

The investment, significant yet modest relative to his peak, reflects an acknowledgment of at least some reduction in his stuff. Then again, the White Sox acquired a former Kansas City closer with similar question marks last winter, and Joakim Soria turned out to be a terrific addition.

As for any bigger picture, I’d guess this takes the White Sox out of the running for Adam Ottavino, and presents a slightly more compelling roster to free agents at other positions. The fastest way to beat projections is with an incredible bullpen performance. The White Sox aren’t selling out for that outcome, but with Colome and Herrera around for late-inning credibility and guys like Ian Hamilton potentially offering greater upside, they’re making it a little more feasible.

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35Shields
Member

I’m excited for the White Sox to make a move this offseason that doesn’t cause ‘Ok, but y tho’ to be my initial reaction.

yolmers gatorade
Member

I like it, obviously, because it was in my off season plan. There is some difference of opinion between Fangraphs and BB ref on his value. It seem fair to say he is probably worth more than 1 WAR when healthy and pitching well, so the contract probably has surplus value to it. He knows the AL central well, and I think coming back to a Central team will lead to better numbers. It seems like a good upside contract. If he performs well, the Sox will have him below market rate for two or three years.

Lurker Laura
Member

I like your take on this: don’t throw away the leads the young starters might be able to gain. We did that plenty last year.

I think shoring up the bullpen (while still giving young guys room) was always in the Sox’s plan. Not “if we can’t get Harpchado, we’ll get a good bullpen instead.”

Trooper Galactus
Member

Maybe I’m misremembering, but I didn’t think the bullpen was bad in 2018. If anything, it’s about the only area the team was at least average-ish.

yolmers gatorade
Member

Nah dude, they were pretty bad. You’re forgetting a lot of Rondon, Volstad, and Hector Santiago innings.

MrStealYoBase
Member

But hey, if you replace those 75 innings of Rondon and Volstad with Herrera and some combination of Jones, Burr, & Hamilton (let’s assume Colome just replaces Soria’s production), then it doesn’t look that bad!

Trooper Galactus
Member

Well, trading three of their best relievers midseason didn’t exactly help matters.

melidoperez
Member

Obvious concern with the foot and more so with any type of shoulder barking, but assuming that accounts for at least a bit of the performance weirdness last year and it looks okay now, easy to like this. If Burdi comes back looking anything like who he is supposed to be, and Fry performing as one of the best handful of lefties in the game last year wasn’t a mirage, this could really be a formidable group.

The only danger with this move IMO is Hawk unretiring himself because of bullpen fever.

Patrick Nolan
Editor

I’m still perplexed. Of the three units (position players, starting pitchers, bullpen), they’ve thrown the majority of their resources so far at 1) the one that moves the needle the least, and 2) the one for which they have the most internal options. The Sox could have built a good bullpen without this, despite the true statement that “there’s no such thing as too good”.

They’ve made five substantial transactions this winter, and three, possibly four of the five derive their greatest potential value from subsequent moves that have yet to be made. This offseason could look great if those moves eventually happen. If not, well, then Herrera and Colome could, in the best case, wind up looking like Joakim Soria — a player who worked out about as well as he possibly could have but still did extremely little (Medeiros) to bring a contender to Chicago.

Greg Nix
Editor

I’d go with disappointed over perplexed. For $16 million, I’d much rather have Charlie Morton than Herrera/Colome. For $11 million, I’d much rather have Wilson Ramos than Alonso/McCann.

Even assuming something good eventually happens, I’ll feel like resources were misallocated this winter.

melidoperez
Member

The problem with the hypotheticals is the team has to deal with reality. You could absolutely be right on how this all shakes out, but as an example, it was reported Morton was mulling retirement and if not would only consider eastern geography for family reasons. He ended up with a team that plays and has spring training in Florida. Seems difficult to find fault for not taking an option they were never given.

Greg Nix
Editor

Those are just examples. There are plenty of ways to spread $30 million dollars around that don’t result in two relievers, a below average DH, and a terrible catcher. 

Trooper Galactus
Member

I’m fine with Colome/Herrera because they provide more bedrock performance in an area where there’s bound to be some growing pains, despite the depth and upside of the internal options. But Alonso and McCann? Yeah, I’m with you on that one. The former wasn’t needed (Daniel Palka says hi) and the latter makes the team actually worse at the position, and for that money they could have made a legitimate near-term upgrade at a number of positions.

35Shields
Member

Not sure what you’re upset about Pnoles. It worked really well during the last rebuild when they committed a bunch of money to the bullpen for a team that was multiple moves away from contention!

yolmers gatorade
Member

I think you guys are lumping Colome and Herrera in with Alonso and McCann. Colome and Herrera are pretty good moves, and will take pressure off a lot of the younger players.

35Shields
Member

I’m fine with Colome – he’s better than Herrera, cheaper than Herrera and is more necessary than Herrera (adding the first veteran, non-Nate Jones arm is a bigger concern than adding the second).

yolmers gatorade
Member

I like the Sox’s young relievers, but I don’t think it would be a good idea to give them the majority of the bullpen. Watch the Sox sign Xavier Cedeno or Dan Jennings again. That way there’ll be 2-3 spots for the young guns. That ensures that the best ones are in the majors and the ones that need more seasoning are at Charlotte.

Trooper Galactus
Member

Between Fry, Bummer, and Frare, I think they’re okay on internal lefty options for the time being. Not sure if they plan on bringing up anybody like Guerrero or Flores in the pen to get acclimated.

yolmers gatorade
Member

Yeah, I kind of hope they stick, but who knows if they will. Frare is my favorite. He is sick nasty dude, and I hope he works out because his raw stuff is plus plus.

Trooper Galactus
Member

I think it’s debatable to say Colome is better than Herrera. Better in 2018, no recent injuries I’m aware of, but he’s a year older and doesn’t have any more impressive a body of work. The money between the two is negligible also, except Colome is going to be due a raise, potentially a big one, in 2020 if he continues to perform well whereas Herrera has a fixed price. Yes, they’re a bit redundant in a way, but I feel a lot better about the bullpen with Herrera here than without him.

35Shields
Member

There’s an argument that they’re close, but I’d lean toward Colome.

He’s got a better WPA, ERA, FIP and xFIP in the last three years (SIERA and xFIP are pretty much the same). Throw in the better health history and no loss of velo and I’d say that being a year older doesn’t really matter.

Colome might get a raise, but he’s guaranteed no money.

ndsoxfan
Member

Would you prefer they did nothing until Harper or Machado signed?

Patrick Nolan
Editor

Did you read anything I wrote on Friday? What a question.

Yes, I want them to do things.

No, I don’t want those things to be a bunch of spare parts.

karkovice squad
Member

I’m fine with the offseason not being a paint by numbers affair–Machado and Harper are themselves somewhat responsible for that. At least this move doesn’t require a visit to ancestry.com to figure out nor is it an obvious step backwards.

Which doesn’t absolve the front office of still absolutely needing to deliver the kind of major improvement which they haven’t to date.

MrStealYoBase
Member

The fastest way to beat projections is with an incredible bullpen performance.

I don’t know if this group is quite capable of “incredible” but this is a solid point. The Royals and Orioles of 2012-2016 made a habit of beating projection systems by 10-15 wins doing just this. I’d like to see them pick up one more veteran lefty option. Tony Watson might be available in trade and wouldn’t add too much payroll.

They still need to address the black hole that is the fifth starting pitcher spot in order for this to be worth it. Julio Teheran could be an interesting trade possibility and could likely be had for cheap if the White Sox take on all of his contract.

As Cirensica
Member

And defense….it is not only bullpen. Those Royals and those Orioles had fantastic defense. They caught everything making the life of pitchers a lot easier.

shaggy65
Member

I really like the move. This is a good demonstrator of Rick Hahn’s insight. The timing of the contract works out in so many ways.

A. STAGGERING VETERANS – We have 3 veterans on the books in 2019, 2 in 2020 (good-bye Nate), 1 in 2021 (good-bye Alex). As the kids progress we need veterans less.
B. 2020 OVER 2019 – Coming off an injury we don’t know what to expect from Herrera in 2019 (a year we only sort of care about). By 2020/21 (years we care more about) he should hopefully be healthy and effective. He’s not quite in his prime, but relievers usually remain solid through age 31.
C. 2019 RELIEVERS – Herrera may start slow, but he should be coming on just as Nate Jones is flaming out again.
D. REBUILD TIMING – in the early stages of a climb back into relevance these are exactly the type of risk/reward contracts we should be signing. The payroll ain’t exactly maxed out yet, so take a flier and find value where you can.

Worst case – he’s a middling reliever on a middling team.
Most likely outcome – he’s a veteran presence in an up-and-coming bullpen.
Best case – the kids are so good that we can eventually trade him away to make room. Good (or even decent) relievers can always find a home.

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