Mainly due to a lack of suiters, there is plenty of speculation that Craig Kimbrel is bound to come back to the Red Sox. But Kimbrel’s weaknesses haven’t disappeared. He will still be pricey, even at a reduced rate. Kelvin Herrera, however, is also sitting out there. And his experience and value could be priceless to the Sox.
One reason Kelvin Herrera is still available is his injury history. He suffered a torn Lisranc ligament in his left foot and had surgery for it on 8/30/2018. The recovery for that encompasses around six months and requires vigilance. That means he’ll be available a few weeks into spring training if all goes well. From the looks of it, things are on track:
Beyond his foot surgery, Herrera had a right shoulder impingement in August of last year. That was actually good news. He was traded from the Royals in the first place in part due to his mysterious shoulder problems. Knowing it was an impingement provides a clear method of treatment going forward. He would not be throwing ‘light toss’ if he was still suffering.
There’s a lot to like about Herrera. He will only be 29 on Opening Day 2019. He also he walks the fewest batters of all the relievers that are and were available in free agency. His 3 year average is 2.17 walks per 9 innings, which is the lowest of all comparisons in the top tier. It is that low walk number than allows him to rival Kimbrel in the walk per strikeout stat. Herrera is 4.6 BB/K, Kimbrel is 4.97 BB/K. His three year ERA in the regular season is 3.15.
His postseason performance is almost Rivera-esq. His postseason ERA is 1.26 in 28.2 innings. That includes a minuscule 1.081 WHIP and 11.9 K/9. He turns it up when the lights are brightest, a perfect fit for the Sox.
Because of his injury there are questions about Herrera, but that will also make him less expensive. He very well could big the biggest relief Ace bargain of 2019.