6:10pm: Herrera will earn $1.6MM in 2015 and $2.55MM in 2016, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets. Herrera has also passed his physical, Heyman notes, so it’s seemingly just a matter of time before the contract becomes official.
2:51pm: The Royals are finalizing a two-year contract with right-handed setup man Kelvin Herrera, reports Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star (on Twitter). The contract will pay the arbitration-eligible relief ace $4.15MM. Herrera is represented by the Beverly Hills Sports Council.
Herrera, who turned 25 on New Year’s Eve, broke out as part of an elite trio of relief arms that fueled Kansas City’s juggernaut-like run through the American League Wild Card game, the ALDS and the ALCS. Alongside Wade Davis and closer Greg Holland, Herrera gives manager Ned Yost three lights-out weapons to pitch in high-leverage situations at the end of games.
Last season, Herrera pitched to a pristine 1.41 ERA, averaging 7.6 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 with a 49.2 percent ground-ball rate while lighting up the radar gun with a fastball that averaged 98.1 mph. His strikeout rate dipped substantially from 2013, perhaps due to a stark decrease in the number of change-ups he threw (176 in 2013, 33 in 2014). The decision to scrap the change seems at least somewhat curious, given the 22 percent whiff rate he’s racked up on the pitch throughout his career, but it’s hard to argue with the bottom-line results produced by Herrera.
Herrera had filed for a $1.9MM salary, with the team countering at $1.15MM, as shown in MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker. The midpoint of those figures — $1.525MM — was right in line with the $1.5MM projection of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz. However, under his new two-year deal, Herrera will not have to worry about the arbitration process until the 2016-17 offseason. As a Super Two player who was eligible for the first time this winter, Herrera will be controlled through the 2018 season and will be arb-eligible twice more upon completion of this pact.