Although the Red Sox didn’t add to their bullpen prior to Tuesday’s non-waiver trade deadline, they were connected to several relievers in recent rumors. Add the Nationals’ Kelvin Herrera to the group of relievers who landed on the Red Sox’s radar, as Alex Speier of the Boston Globe and Rob Bradford of WEEI tweet that the team had been after the right-hander.
Herrera would have been a significant pickup for Boston and a major loss for Washington, the latter of which has disappointed this year but still didn’t make any huge moves leading up to the deadline. The Nationals did deal reliever Brandon Kintzler to the Cubs, though they otherwise kept their 52-53 team intact and will continue trying to make up a 5 1/2-game deficit in the NL East. Herrera will be part of that group, but the 28-year-old hasn’t performed as well as hoped since the Nats acquired him in a headline-grabbing trade with the Royals on June 18.
When the Nationals picked up Herrera, he had worked to a near-spotless 1.05 ERA with 22 strikeouts against a mere two walks in 25 2/3 innings. Since then, the 28-year-old has logged a still-solid 3.29 ERA with 12 punchouts and six walks in 13 2/3 frames. Given that Washington’s general manager, Mike Rizzo, continues to hold out hope the club will rally this year, he wasn’t willing to flip Herrera for anything other than a compelling return.
Despite their subpar season thus far, the Nats didn’t view dealing Herrera as a must. However, they could now lose the pending free agent for nothing in the offseason. Because he was already part of a trade this season, Herrera won’t be eligible to receive a qualifying offer over the winter. Perhaps the Nationals will try to deal Herrera in August if they continue to stumble, then, but his track record and reasonable salary (the rest of a ~$7.93MM commitment) mean he may not clear waivers. If a team does claim Herrera, the Nationals would only be able to work out a trade with that club.
The Red Sox, meanwhile, may keep seeking bullpen upgrades over the next month, and it should help that they’re unafraid to incur the penalties that come with exceeding a $237MM payroll. Whether they truly need help is up for debate, though. Boston owns the majors’ best record (75-33) and a six-game lead in the AL East, thanks in part to a relief corps that ranks fourth in the majors in fWAR, sixth in ERA and 10th in K/BB ratio.