Kelvin and the Chipmunks
Adam Ottavino. The warehouse man. Seriously, this dude spent the winter of 2017-18 in a warehouse in Harlem, rented by his father-in-law, fixing his mechanics after a putrid 2017 campaign with the Rockies. He was even left off the 2017 Wild Card game roster. That’s how bad he was that year. Fast forward to 2018, and he was arguably the best closer in the National League with his home ballpark being the best hitter’s ballpark in the MLB. Here’s a brief overview of his 2018 season: 2.0 fWAR, 2.74 FIP, 2.43 ERA, and 12.98 K/9 innings. Those are fantastic numbers.
Now, how does this pertain to the White Sox, D.J.? I’m glad you asked, reader. The White Sox signed Kelvin Herrera, former Royals closer, to a two-year deal worth $18 million with a $9 million third-year option. Adam Ottavino, on the other hand, received a three-year, $27 million deal from the Yankees today. That is virtually the same money spent on each player. I was fine with the Herrera deal at first. It added much-needed depth to the bullpen. However, given the way the reliever market is shaping up, only the STUDS are getting over $8 million per year. Herrera is solid, but he is far from the stud he was in 2015 with Kansas City. Let us please also consider that he was diagnosed with structural damage in his throwing shoulder and tore the Lisfranc ligament in his right foot. He is still recovering from the foot injury, too. Surely, this would deplete his value on the free market, no? I get that he’s a perfect candidate for Don Cooper to flip around, but the White Sox shouldn’t be in the business of flipping relievers for top-400 prospects anymore, as my esteemed colleague, Tony Marchese, already pointed out. To give you a direct comparison, here are the same stats from Herrera in 2018 (obviously, I know it was an injury-plagued season): 0.4 fWAR, 3.95 FIP, 2.44 ERA, and 7.71 K/9 innings. All of these are worse than Ottavino. The only advantage is Herrera is four years younger than Ottavino.
In summary, Herrera needs to turn it around with the White Sox because $9 million per year seems like they preemptively jumped the market on him, while there was considerably better relief talent left in the free agent pool that could have been acquired. As of now, the Yankees got the better reliever. Kelvin, please prove me wrong.