The White Sox bullpen is getting another big upgrade.
According to ESPN's Jeff Passan, the South Siders are in agreement with free-agent relief pitcher Kelvin Herrera on a two-year contract with an option for a third.
Reliever Kelvin Herrera and the Chicago White Sox are in agreement on a two-year, $18 million deal with a vesting third-year option, sources tell ESPN.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 7, 2019
Herrera was a longtime White Sox nemesis with the Kansas City Royals, where he spent the entirety of his eight-year big league career prior to a midseason trade last year that sent him to the Washington Nationals. He's dominated the White Sox in his career to the tune of a 2.56 ERA and 52 strikeouts in 59.2 innings against them.
Herrera was stellar with the Royals, where he posted a 2.75 ERA in his time there. That includes a pencil-thin 1.05 mark in 27 games prior to last summer's trade. After the trade, his numbers exploded, with a 4.34 ERA in 21 games. He was injured twice in August, first going on the disabled list for a couple weeks with a shoulder injury and then seeing his season come to an early end with a foot injury upon his return.
But for those concerned, he's working his way back.
⚾️💨 some light toss today. pic.twitter.com/UY1vnYeW0Q
— Kelvin Herrera (@KelvinHerrera40) December 4, 2018
If there are some additional red flags, Herrera's velocity dipped during the 2018 season, as did his K/9, and he saw a rise in his contact rate.
But Herrera has a heck of a track record from his days in Kansas City. In a three-season stretch from 2014 to 2016 - which included back-to-back World Series trips - he had a 2.30 ERA with 209 strikeouts in 211.2 innings of work.
Herrera, who just turned 29, figures to be a solid addition as the White Sox plan to make the transition from rebuilding mode to contending mode. He's the second name addition to the relief corps this winter after Alex Colome, who will likely be the new closer just two seasons removed from leading the majors in saves. Herrera, though, did his best work in a stacked Royals 'pen during their World Series days, so a setup or seventh-inning role could suit the two-time All Star well.
Like Colome, the White Sox will have Herrera for at least the next two seasons. But given the volatility of relievers that Hahn has talked about on multiple occasions this offseason, it's hard to say Herrera is guaranteed to be a part of the bullpen of the future. His age helps that case, but the team will have the option of dealing him at a future deadline should the opportunity arise. That said, under team control potentially through 2021 could make him a factor on a White Sox contender, should the rest of the rebuild go according to plan.