The White Sox officially welcomed Kelvin Herrera into the fold this afternoon, giving him a spot on the capacity 40-man roster by designating Ian Clarkin for assignment. The Cubs are on the clock.
The biggest question mark with Herrera — one that explains why he signed for just two years guaranteed with a vesting option for a third — is his health. His season ended with a torn Lisfranc ligament (corrected), but he also battled a rotator cuff impingement shortly after the trade as well.
“I feel good,” said Herrera, who is already cleared to play catch. “I feel strong enough to start spring training. We’re doing what they want me to do but that’s up to them. I’m just going to follow all the accommodations that the team is up to tell me. Right now I’m very optimistic that I’m going to start spring training with no restrictions.”
He also likes the track the White Sox are on, saying it reminds him of a Royals team that eventually figured it all out.
“I’ve been excited (by) the direction this team has taken,” Herrera said during a conference call on Tuesday, when the team announced his signing to a two-year, $18 million deal with a third-year option. “It resembles my time with Kansas City, when I was starting. We were in rebuilding mode and we were just trying to learn to play the right way, with intensity and giving 100 percent effort every time. I think it’s something that you can see in this team too.”
Herrera seems like a fairly jovial and enthusiastic fella. He’s already wearing the colors on his Twitter profile, to the chagrin of Royals fans who embraced him.
The White Sox will be happy to see his lighter side, since they’ve seen plenty of the competitive fire over the last seven years.
With Herrera and Nate Jones, the White Sox have the two Most AL Central relievers in an AL Central that’s a little short on such players, especially since the Indians have turned over their entire late-inning alignment over the last two seasons.
And the White Sox have certainly had their battles over the years. Herrera has made more appearances (62) and thrown more innings (69.2) against the White Sox than he has against any other team. It’s basically a full season’s worth of appearances, and it’s a season that fits within his range of performances: 5-5, 2.56 ERA, 52 strikeouts, 21 walks, five homers allowed.
Herrera’s had a couple of run-ins with the Sox over this time. He was suspended for two games for his role in the Royals-White Sox brawl in 2015, although unlike the other five players who served time for the melee, it wasn’t clear exactly what Herrera did, aside from having a previous offense by throwing at Brett Lawrie.
A year later, he had trouble retiring Todd Frazier, including a game-winning three-run homer at Kauffman Stadium that August.
Those beefs have to be water under the bridge by now, although there were more current White Sox on hand for it than I would’ve guessed. These are the kinds of situations that the unbalanced schedule fosters, and they’re also the kinds of run-ins that give Herrera his particular Most AL Central patina.