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Royals trade closer Kelvin Herrera to Nationals

The Washington Nationals are hoping closer Kelvin Herrera can shore up their bullpen. (Michael Ainsworth / AP)
The Washington Nationals are hoping closer Kelvin Herrera can shore up their bullpen. (Michael Ainsworth / AP)
Associated Press

WASHINGTON – Getting a jump on the trade deadline to add talent to the back of their bullpen, the Washington Nationals picked up right-hander Kelvin Herrera from the Kansas City Royals on Monday for three minor leaguers.

The Nationals sent infielder Kelvin Gutierrez, outfielder Blake Perkins and 17-year-old pitcher Yohanse Morel to Kansas City in the deal announced during Washington’s doubleheader against the New York Yankees.

Herrera has 14 saves and a 1.05 earned-run average this season. He’s allowed three earned runs in 25 2/3 innings while striking out 22 batters and walking two.

The 28-year-old is a two-time American League All-Star who helped Kansas City win the 2015 World Series – and is among the last players left from that title team. He is 23-27 with 57 saves and a 2.75 ERA across 442 games in relief over eight seasons in the majors.

Herrera joins lefty closer Sean Doolittle and eighth-inning righty Ryan Madson in the back of Washington’s bullpen. Brandon Kintzler, the usual seventh-inning man for Washington, went on the disabled list June 10 with a right forearm flexor strain.

Instead of waiting to make moves at the July 31 non-waiver deadline, the Nationals opted to strike now. They are the two-time reigning National League East Division champions but have never won a postseason series. Washington also currently stands in second place in the division, entering Monday 3 1/2 games behind the Atlanta Braves.

The Royals, meanwhile, are already way out of contention in the A.L. Central in last place and 22-49 going into the day. They already shipped Jon Jay to the Arizona Diamondbacks for a pair of minor leaguers earlier in June.

This is also the second time in recent years the Royals traded away a high-profile closer, after sending Wade Davis to the Chicago Cubs in December 2016.

The Nationals avoided parting with any of their highest-regarded prospects.

Kansas City said Gutierrez will head to Double-A Northwest Arkansas, Perkins will be assigned to Class A Wilmington and Morel will be sent to rookie ball.

Gutierrez is a 23-year-old third baseman who was batting .274 with five homers at Double-A Harrisburg in Washington’s system.

Perkins is a 21-year-old switch-hitter who was a second-round draft pick in 2015. He was hitting .234 at Class A Potomac.

Morel is a righty from the Dominican Republic in his first professional season.

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