The Cubs announced that they’ve signed right-hander Kelvin Herrera and left-hander Matt Dermody to minor league contracts and assigned them to their alternate training site. The team’s 60-man player pool is now full. Herrera, 30, was recently cut loose by the White Sox after being designated for assignment. Dermody, also 30, had been pitching in the independent Constellation Energy League.
Herrera was once a high-end setup man and eventually a closer for the Royals. The hard-throwing righty was part of a juggernaut Kansas City bullpen that fueled the team’s 2014 and 2015 World Series appearances, pitching to a 2.75 ERA with 8.9 K/9 against 2.6 BB/9 in 441 1/3 frames in parts of eight seasons with the Royals. He was eventually traded from K.C. to D.C. in a swap that sent minor leaguers Kelvin Gutierrez, Blake Perkins and Yohanse Morel from the Nats to the Royals.
Herrera’s time with the Nats didn’t go well, however. He missed time early with a shoulder impingement, and upon returning he suffered a Lisfranc fracture in his left foot that ended his season. That was hardly an ideal run-up to his first foray into free agency, but Herrera’s standout track record still netted him a two-year, $18MM deal with the White Sox. The pact went even more poorly, though, as Herrera was shelled for 6.54 ERA in 53 2/3 frames with the South Siders before being released last week.
Dermody, meanwhile, has just 25 1/3 innings of big league experience under his belt — all coming with the 2016-17 Blue Jays. He’s spent his entire pro career in the Toronto organization prior to this season, during which time he’s posted a 4.12 ERA in parts of four Triple-A campaigns. His lack of track record may seem questionable, but Dermody has been lights out on the indie circuit this season, allowing just one earned run on 13 hits and six walks with 23 strikeouts in 17 1/3 frames. That showing clearly made an impression on the Cubs, who’ll now have Dermody on hand as a depth option should the need arise.
The Cubs have gotten out to a hot start, but their bullpen remains an obvious weakness. High-priced closer Craig Kimbrel has looked lost since signing in Chicago, and the team hasn’t spent on any other bullpen help in the past several years. They’re currently relying on a patchwork group that has seen Rowan Wick and the talented-but-inconsistent Jeremy Jeffress shoulder the bulk of the high-leverage situations as Kimbrel continues to struggle. Herrera is the second former AL Central All-Star on whom the Cubs are rolling the dice. They signed former Indians closer Cody Allen to a minor league deal and assigned him to their alternate training site last week.
Cubs starters rank first in the Majors in ERA (1.95), second in FIP (2.52) and sixth in xFIP (3.51). Their relievers, as a whole, rank 29th in ERA (7.20), dead last in FIP (6.90) and 23rd in xFIP (4.81).