Royals sign Herrera, their last arbitration-eligible player

Kelvin Herrera a career-high 12 saves and a 2.75 ERA in 72 appearances out of the bullpen last season.
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Royals felt comfortable trading star closer Wade Davis in part because they had Kelvin Herrera, a two-time All-Star in his own right, ready to assume the job this season.

Now, they’re closer to paying Herrera like a star closer.

Kansas City and his representatives agreed to a one-year, $5,325,000 contract Friday that includes a $50,000 bonus for making the All-Star Game again. The deal allows the sides to avoid arbitration and is a substantial boost from the $2.6 million Herrera made last season.

When the sides swapped proposed salaries last month, the Royals offered $5.05 million and Herrera requested $5.6 million.

“The team and I have agreed to a settlement at the midpoint today,” Herrera said in a statement on Twitter. “Even though the team had a ‘file and trial’ policy and both sides were ready to go to a hearing, we have realized this is a time for us to be united as a family and put our differences aside.”

The Royals may have a “file and trial” policy against negotiating after the swap, the agreement means Royals general manager Dayton Moore still has never gone through the trial portion in nearly a decade in charge. Kansas City has signed all of its arbitration-eligible players for this season.

The 27-year-old Herrera is assuming the closer job after the Royals traded Davis to the Chicago Cubs for outfielder Jorge Soler this offseason. But Herrera has plenty of experience in the role, saving 12 games last season when Davis was dealing with injuries.

Herrera has a 2.63 ERA over parts of six seasons and has appeared in at least 70 games each of the past three. His strikeout-to-walk ratio last season was also the best of his career.

He is eligible for arbitration next winter and can become a free agent after the 2018 season.