Herrera deal believed to be 2 years for $4.15M. With escalators. @McCulloughStar first with the finances.— Jeffrey Flanagan (@jflanagankc) February 12, 2015
Earlier today the Royals and Kelvin Herrera agreed to a two-year contract worth $4.15M. The deal buys out Herrer'a first two years of arbitration and as a super two eligible player he'll have two more years remaining.
The deal itself seems to be a good one for the Royals in terms of value, but maybe not through a team-friendly sense. Herrera wasn't necessarily expected to make much through arbitration anyways given his lack of stats that the process likes (in his case saves/holds) so it isn't like Herrera is giving the Royals a discount or buying out free agency years.
On the other side of the coin though the Royals will be paying Herrera the price of about half a win for the combined two years ahead. Herrera is coming off his career best year of a 1.4 fWAR and 2.69 FIP (1.41 ERA) in his age 24 season. If he were free agent eligible he'd be looking near a deal like David Robertson just signed with the White Sox worth $46M. Obviously that isn't to be taken as a direct comparison as the two players have different contract circumstances, but more so the contract that the respected team is paying each player compared to their value is a clear win for the Royals.
One should note of course that this only buys out the first two years of Herrera's arbitration. Generally players most the majority of their arb money in the final two seasons of eligibility. Greg Holland has just two more years of team control remaining while Wade Davis has three. Assuming both of them leave, Herrera could receive significant time in the 8th inning (aka more holds) once Holland leaves and Davis moves to closer. Then once Davis leaves, Herrera will have his final team control year in the 9th inning (aka more saves). He won't go through arbitration again in that last scenario so Herrera won't benefit in that way from racking up saves, but that would certainly drive his free agent value up highly.
What's even more interesting here is the 2017 scenario where the Royals will have Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, Herrera, Danny Duffy and others entering either the final year or two of their arb eligibility or otherwise the most expensive years. Off the books of course would be Alex Gordon, Jeremy Guthrie, Alex Rios, Edinson Volquez, Kendrys Morales, and Greg Holland (if no options/extensions happen). Of course by that time we'll have Kyle Zimmer and Bubba Starling filling those holes...