The Washington Nationals reportedly have interest in Royals reliever Kelvin Herrera, a piece of news that could signal a new normal for a team that is off to a slow start in a crucial 2017 season.
The Nationals’ interest in Herrera, in addition to other possible bullpen pieces, was reported last week by Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal. It remains unclear whether the Royals would be inclined to move Herrera, who is not scheduled to hit free-agency until after the 2018 season, should they fall out of contention before the July 31 trade deadline. Yet the early interest in Herrera could be the tip of the iceberg in a summer of trade rumors and intrigue.
The Royals entered Sunday morning with a 7-15 record following eight straight losses. They also possess a list of core players who are set to hit free-agency following the season, including Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar and Jason Vargas.
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The club has time to pull out of its early tailspin and push toward another postseason run, which could put the trade talk on the back-burner. But if the Royals remain in last place — and fall further from postseason contention — the summer months could be dominated by rumors and possibilities.
The Nationals, for instance, have a five-game lead in the National League East after a 17-8 start. Yet they could be searching for ways to reinforce a thin bullpen this summer.
Herrera, 27, would be highly coveted in the trade market. A two-time All-Star, Herrera is in his first season as the Royals’ closer after posting a 2.62 ERA across parts of seven major-league seasons. He is making $5.325 million this season and is set for another raise next year as he enters his final season of salary arbitration.