Two-time All-Star and 2015 World Series champion Kelvin Herrera announced today, via Twitter, that he is retiring after spending parts of 10 seasons in the Major Leagues.
“I want to thank everyone who has been a part of my career, starting with the Kansas City Royals organization who believed in this kid from Tenares, Dominican Republic and gave him a chance to do something meaningful with his life,” Herrera wrote in his announcement. “From ownership, to the Front Office, the staff, my teammates and last but not least, the fans, I owe you guys everything.”
Herrera goes on to thank both the Nationals and White Sox organizations for welcoming him as well. For the time being, Herrera says he plans to focus on his family and the next chapter of his life.
It’ll no doubt surprise some readers to see that Herrera is still just 31 years old. He’s been around the Majors for a decade due to the Royals calling on him for his Major League debut at just 21 years of age.
Herrera pitched in just two games late in that 2011 season, but the right-hander was an immediate success in 2012 — his first full season at the MLB level. In 84 1/3 innings, he worked to a pristine 2.35 ERA with 19 holds, three saves and a heater that averaged a blistering 98.5 mph. In a normal year, that overwhelming success would’ve no doubt garnered Rookie of the Year consideration, but 2012 happened to also be the rookie season for Mike Trout, Yoenis Cespedes and Yu Darvish, who commanded nearly every top-three vote on the ballot that year.
Even without any Rookie of the Year love, Herrera had established himself as a dominant late-inning arm in short order, and that’s the exact role he’d over the next half decade as a steady presence at the back of some elite Kansas City bullpens. From 2012-16, Herrera pitched 354 1/3 regular-season innings with the Royals and notched a collective 2.57 ERA with 106 holds and 17 saves.
The bullpen was in many ways the backbone of the Royals’ back-to-back World Series runs in 2014-15, and Herrera joined teammates Wade Davis, Greg Holland and (in 2015) Ryan Madson in forming a juggernaut late-inning group that gave opposing lineups absolute fits. Each of Herrera, Davis and Holland posted ERAs south of 1.50 and appeared in at least 65 games during the 2014 season. Herrera was as untouchable during the postseason as he was in the regular season, combining for 28 2/3 innings of 1.26 ERA ball in his playoff career.
With the Royals out of contention during Herrera’s final year of club control in 2018, they made the decision to trade him to the Nationals for a package of young players including Kelvin Gutierrez, Blake Perkins and Yohanse Morel. Herrera was injured for part of his time with the Nats, going down with a Lisfranc tear in his foot, but he gave them 18 1/3 innings of 4.34 ERA ball before reaching free agency and signing a two-year pact with the White Sox. Things didn’t pan out in Chicago, as Herrera was tagged for 39 runs in just 53 2/3 innings across his two seasons there.
Herrera’s peak was brief but absolutely dominant, and he’ll go down in Royals lore as an absolutely vital member of a bullpen that fueled a baseball renaissance in Kansas City and brought home the club’s first title in three decades. He’ll hang up the spikes with a career 3.21 ERA, 119 holds, 61 saves and 510 strikeouts in 513 2/3 innings of regular-season work — plus the aforementioned sterling postseason track record. Best wishes to Herrera and his family in whatever the future holds.
Still only 31. How was his velocity last year? He was still quite effective as recently as 2018.
Really? I can’t believe it. He was a terrific reliever not long ago.
According to Brooks Baseball it was ~94 mph last year. Not terrible but not 98 -99 like it was in 2015. Perhaps he just didn’t want to take a minor league deal anywhere.
Wouldn’t be surprised if he unretires to make a comeback attempt in ~5 years.
Thought he was going to be a great pickup for Nats ngl
That Davis, Herrera, Holland bullpen in 2014 was one of the best back ends for a team that didn’t win the World Series. I hope he has a good time in retirement.
Yeah that really was an incredible bullpen! Those Royals teams changed the way a lot of teams have assembled their pitching staffs ever since…they showed everyone how effective a really dominant bullpen can be and you still see that mindset in the game today.
Actually I think the Reds teams of the early 90’s showed how effective a solid bullpen could be. They had Randy Myers, Norm Charlton and Rob Dibble. If I remember correctly Charlton threw over 150 innings of relief in their 1990 Championship team. All 3 went on to be closers for other teams. Lou Piniella never had trouble getting a job again after that season. The Royals championship team was a clone of those Reds. Adding Madson mimics what the Reds did in 91 when they added Ted Power. Unfortunately the Reds lost Danny Jackson and Armstrong forgot how to pitch. They replaced Jackson with 2 replacement level pitchers and with only one decent starter (Jose Rijo) they finished dead last in their division. Having the best bullpen only matters when you have starters that can hand a winning game to them. Those great Yankee bullpens of a few years ago reaffirmed that.
Charlton was a starter for a chunk of that year.
thecoffinnail- That was Pete Rose’s team, that 1990 champion team.. They suspended him the year before in August. Lucky Lou.
Those Royal’s bullpens went much deeper with Luke Hochever and Chris Young. The premise KC set was starters only going through the order twice, then turning the game over to the bullpen.
The only recent team I can think of with just as dominant a bullpen was the 2019 Astros where they had a bullpen where 4 guys (Smith, Harris, Pressly, Osuna) combined for a 2.11 ERA and 0.91 WHIP over 200+ innings. Then a couple more guys who were coming off good years, but struggled a bit that year (Rondon, McHugh, Devenski)
Matt Stairsway to Heaven
$37mil in career earnings. 522 career appearances. $70,000 everytime he took the mound. I’d buy that for a dollar! Enjoy retirement.
Not a bad gig if you can get it LOL
That Robocop line never gets old.
Couple AS games and World Series ring 30 mil earned. You did it man! Ride off into the sunset and enjoy the retirement (retire at 31 what a life!)
Way too young to hang it up after a couple rough seasons. Surely he could have landed somewhere, even on a minor league deal
I’m guessing he just didn’t want to do it. He’s also the type of player who a year on might generate the following headline: Kelvin Herrera Announces His Intentions to Pitch in 2022.”
Nothing will cause a man to head out on the road than after spending a year with the family. I might be joking. Or not.
Absolute roller coaster of a comment lol
I have this man’s Royals jersey in my closet. He made some great hitters look silly. No one wanted to face Davis/Herrera/Holland at the end of games.
Have a great life after baseball Mr Herrera. This Royals fan will always remember the filthy heat you brought.
My favorite reliever from the early 2010s along with Joel Zumaya. Wish them both all the best in future endeavors, it was a pleasure to watch you compete. Thanks
Wow I had completely forgot about Joel Zumaya….man, that guy was fun to watch. It really sucks when injuries ruin a career like that
Ya but i bet the man could shred at guitar hero….lol
Yanks could have used him but since he doesn’t get hurt enough, yanks passed on him.
didnt see this coming
Made some money, got a ring, now go enjoy your family!
I’ll never forget H-D-H!
As an A’s fan, the 2014 Royals drove me crazy and broke my heart in the wildcard game. The most painful game I ever watched! Damn, that Royals pen was good, and Hererra threw as hard as anyone I’d ever seen. He certainly deserves his retirement. He should be able to live large in the DR for the rest of his days. Good for him…
KC fan here who attended that game. The greatest live sporting event I ever witnessed. I grew up in LA and saw Dodger fans leaving before Gibson’s WS HR. That WC game nobody left, even after the Royals were down big in the 7th.
Just love going back in history. When the Nats picked him up we heard things like:
“Wow Braves fans, trying to downplay his dominance takes it to another level. Excited to see the nats win the division by 10 games.”
I know reacting in hindsight is bad etiquette, but I do love when people bow-up and end up looking bad. Good stuff. And yes, I am certain it has happened to me dozens of times. Funny then as well.
Maybe even better is Braves fans who went nuts because we didn’t trade for him in 18, or sign him as a FA in ’19. Braves GM’s suck. Braves are cheap. Ah, such fun.
EDIT – Forgot to add I hope wherever his life takes him that he does well. And if he comes back and pitches well I will be happy for the man. Especially if it’s for the Braves down the road.
Good for him but it’s so hard to understand. I know he’s made a ton of money but it’s hard for me to believe that he won’t regret this when he’s older an incapable of making millions each year.
37 million dollars in lifetime earnings is enough that even after taxes and the agent’s cut, he and his family will always have lifetime security.
Yeah I’m sure he will. Likewise, if he were standing on a mound next year when he didn’t have to, he’d be kicking himself for missing whatever event with his kids he was missing to play baseball.
So, yeah, he will regret it either way, but choosing family is never truly regrettable.
Herrera was great up until the moment he put on a White Sox uniform. He was brutal with the Sox.
Still, best of luck to him in his retirement. Great career otherwise.
Enjoyed this article, thanks. Count me as one who was shocked he is just 31 years old.
Peart of the game
Hopefully it’s just a long break where he figures some stuff out and comes back as a very successful reliever again.
Good luck to Kelvin. When he was at the top of his game, he was wicked good. Fun to watch.
The Pirates should give him a call. They don’t have anything to lose by signing him
Bring him back to KC – we already have WD and GH – reunion time. Domination!
Big surprise here, really. Unless he doesn’t stay in shape, I would think he will come back in a year or two, post-COVID. Seems like there should be a decent amount left in the tank. A lot like Ryan Madson did after 3 years off.