Whoa for Mid-June Trading: Nationals Pick Up Closer Kelvin Herrera

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Whoa for Mid-June Trading: Nationals Pick Up Closer Kelvin Herrera

Chicago Cubs

Whoa. You don’t see big-time players getting traded in mid-June – at least not often – but here we go. Stuff is going down already.

We just talked about Kelvin Herrera as a plausible Cubs trade target *IF* their needs shifted a bit in the run-up to the Trade Deadline, but, hey, that won’t matter if he’s already been traded. Earlier words on Herrera, who’ll soon be helping shore up the Nationals’ bullpen even further:

Herrera, 28, is not quite the monster he was a few years ago when the Royals had him, Wade Davis, and Greg Holland locking down every game. But after a down 2017 season, Herrera is posting a near-1.00 ERA with an obscenely low 2.1% walk rate (and solid 23.2% strikeout rate). He’s currently serving as the Royals’ closer.

Your only red flag is that his formerly premium velocity has dipped each of the past three years, and is down another click this year (of course, for him, down is about 97 mph, but still – it’s a flag of sorts, especially after many years of heavy usage).

Herrera is a free agent after this season, and would be a true rental, likely costing a couple very good (but not elite) prospects if he stays healthy and effective. Herrera makes $7.94 million this year, and if the Cubs took on about half of that, there wouldn’t be any luxury tax concerns.

The Nationals improving would obviously help them make a stronger run at their rightful place atop the NL East, and thus push the Braves and possibly Phillies back into Wild Card contention. We of course hope that won’t matter to the Cubs, but, well, you never know if the Brewers just don’t cool down.

In other words, the Nationals improving with a very nice reliever could plausibly impact the Cubs in the playoff race. And perhaps more notably, it could impact them down the road in the playoffs. With Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy possibly leaving after this year, it makes sense for the Nationals to really go all out this year.

Now you’re left to wonder whether this is a one-off thing, or if the trade market is somehow going to move extremely early this year.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.