Cubs Sign Reliever Kelvin Hererra to a Minor League Deal

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Cubs Sign Reliever Kelvin Hererra to a Minor League Deal

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs are building the most elite group of 2015-16 relievers ever. I kid, but hey, additional depth never hurt anyone.

Having recently signed former elite Indians closer Cody Allen (who has since fallen on very hard times), the Cubs now also add former elite Royals reliever Kelvin Herrera on a minor league deal.

(Dermody signing discussed here earlier.)

Like Allen, Herrera was so dang good for so long in Kansas City, but then completely fell off the earth the last year and a half:

(via FanGraphs)

Only 30, the shot here is that you can get Herrera in the door, see what happens with a new set of eyes and data and whatever, and if he comes out the other end a guy who could contribute in a pinch in September, cool. If not, nothing was lost in the attempt.

To get there, Herrera is going to have to change something fundamental about his approach to pitching, because the near-100 mph fastball that used to do so much damage for him is long gone. He was down to 96 mph last year, and in limited action earlier this year, he was at 94-95 mph. That’s still a playable velocity, obviously, but he’d needs his changeup or slider (or maybe a new-ish cutter?) to really break him back out. He was never a HUGE whiff guy, so he thrived on keeping hitters sufficiently off-balance that they couldn’t square him up. Can he still do that without premium velocity?

Your bright sign on Herrera is that really it was only the 2019 season that was way down in performance – he was still quite good in 2018. The not so bright side is that 2019 was also his first huge dip in velocity.

We’ll see what happens when he starts throwing in South Bend. That’s an extremely crowded pitching group at this point, and now the 60-man player pool is full. If the Cubs decide to make other additions, they can, of course, drop guys off the 60-man – but at that point, they are subject to waivers. So you’d really only want to drop guys you’re comfortable losing from the organization.

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.