Kelvin Gutierrez (a 23-year-old infielder ranked 10th in the Washington Nationals’ system by MLB.com), outfielder Blake Perkins (a 21-year-old, 2015 2nd Round pick, ranked 11th), and 17-year-old right-hander Yohanse Morel (signed out of the Dominican Republic last July) were all dealt to the Kansas City Royals tonight in exchange for 28-year-old, right-handed reliever Kelvin Herrera.
Herrera, currently in his eighth season with the Royals, was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2006.
Herrera has put up a 1.05 ERA and a 2.62 FIP, two walks (0.70 BB/9), 22 Ks (7.71 K/9), and a .204/.223/.283 line against in 25 2⁄3 innings, earning 14 saves so far in 2018, playing on a 1-year/$7,937,500 deal after he avoided arbitration with Kansas City this past January. He’s headed for free agency this winter.
He took the news of the deal hard.
“I mean, this is a moment that I was not expecting,” Herrera told reporters after the deal was announced, even though he’d heard the rumors he might get dealt.
Herrera is, however, going from the 22-49 Royals, who are currently 15.5 games out in the AL Central, to the 38-31 Nationals, who started the second of two with the Yankees in D.C. 3.0 games out of first in the NL East. He didn’t seem ready to view that as a positive step just yet.
“I mean, it’s always fun,” he said when asked about joining a contender, “... but I was born and raised as a player here, and this is tough right now. I just want to say thanks to all the fans for their support. Thanks to the Kansas City Royals for the chance they gave to me to achieve my dream. That was huge, thanks for the support.”
Royals’ Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Dayton Moore did sound excited about the return they received from the Nationals in the deal.
MLB.com’s scouts noted that Gutierrez, who’s put up a .274/.321/.391 line, six doubles, three triples, and five home runs in 58 games and 249 plate appearances at Double-A Harrisburg this season, is considered by the Nats to be, “one of the better pure hitters in their system.”
Perkins, who has a .234/.344/.290 line, 11 doubles, a home run, and 12 stolen bases in 65 games and 305 PAs at High-A Potomac this season, is described by MLB.com’s Pipeline scouts as a prospect with plus-speed, and strong on-base skills, who has, “the ceiling of a top-of-the-order center fielder, with a fourth-outfielder floor thanks to his across-the-board tools.”
“Gutierrez and Perkins are both elite defenders with upside with the bat,” Moore explained when he talked about the Royals’ return for Herrera tonight.
“Makeup is very good. We’ve known Perkins since the draft days, obviously, he lives right there in Litchfield Park, [AZ]. We had him over to Surprise during his draft year, so we’re familiar with the player, and with Kelvin Gutierrez, [VP and Assistant GM of Major League and International Operations] Rene [Francisco] knows him, and has followed his career.
“He’s a really good shortstop that they even moved to third, so he’s got some ability to probably play there, he has that type of advanced defensive skills. Big kid, strong kid.
“We think power will eventually come a little bit, but not critical to his success with us in this ballpark.
“And then Morel,” Moore added, “is a young Dominican kid that our scouts liked over there. He’s recently just — young career, they had sent him to the states to begin his career in the Gulf Coast League, so I expect we’ll have him in Arizona this summer.”
Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez talked about the latest bullpen addition when he spoke to reporters after a 4-2 loss to the New York Yankees.
“He’s really good,” Martinez said.
“He’s been really good this year too, so I’m excited to have him, he’s going to fit right in.
“He’s closed games, he’s come in in the eighth. For me, we have an All-Star closer right now [in Sean Doolittle], so [Herrera will] be asked to do some different things, but he’ll fit right in.”
Here’s what Herrera’s new teammates had to say about their new reliever:
Doolittle: "For the front office to send a message to us this far ahead of the deadline...It's almost their way of saying 'here's some help. Here's some reinforcements.' I think it's one of those situations where you can't have too many options down there."— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) June 19, 2018
Madson on sorting out late-inning roles now with Herrera joining the group: "I don't think anybody's going to have a problem with it. Let the old horse rest a little bit. He can let me pitch every once in a while, and I'll be fine."— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) June 19, 2018