Nats acquire Royals closer Herrera for three minor leaguers

Seeking to bolster their bullpen with another proven late-inning reliever, the Nationals have finalized a deal for Royals closer Kevin Herrera, the club announced this evening.

The Nationals will be sending three minor leaguers to Kansas City for Herrera, the 28-year-old right-hander with 57 career saves and a 1.05 ERA in 27 appearances this season. Included in the package are third baseman Kelvin Gutierrez (rated the organization’s 10th-best prospect), outfielder Blake Perkins (rated 11th) and right-hander Yohanse Morel.

Despite the presence of Sean Doolittle, now 19-for-20 in save opportunities after he wrapped up today’s suspended game against the Yankees, Nats general manager Mike Rizzo was seeking more late-inning depth to help take workload off 38-year-old Ryan Madson (who allowed two homers Sunday in Toronto) and 33-year-old Brandon Kintzler (currently on the disabled list with a right forearm flexor strain).

Herrera-Throw-White-Royals-Sidebar.jpgHerrera gives the Nationals exactly that, a proven late-game reliever who was an integral part of two Royals clubs that reached the World Series.

Herrera has appeared in at least 59 games each of the last six seasons. He owns a 2.75 ERA, 1.131 WHIP and 57 career saves, all with Kansas City. He’s 14-for-16 in save opportunities this year, having struck out 22 batters while issuing only two walks in 25 2/3 innings.

A free agent this winter, Herrera is owed roughly $3.4 million the remainder of the season.

Though they gave up three players to acquire Herrera, the Nationals were able to avoid giving up any of their elite prospects, such as Juan Soto, Victor Robles or Carter Kieboom. Gutierrez, who has a .714 OPS at Double-A Harrisburg, was considered the best of the group, with Perkins (.634 OPS at Single-A Potomac) behind him.

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