39-year old RHP-Matt Herges joined the Royals organization today by way of a minor league contract. I was waiting for a moment and now I have it. What you are about to read is positive. For this one brief moment, Dayton Moore got it right.
Yes you read that correctly. Signing Herges to a contract, even a major league contract would have been a good move for this organization. The fact that the team was able to land him on a minor league deal, with a spring training invite, makes it a crafty and shrewd move by our embattled GM.
Herges pitched for the Indians and Rockies during the 2009 season and finished with a 3.38 ERA, 1.212 WHIP, and 6.8 SO/9 in 34.2 IP. For his career, he has appeared in 567 games with a 3.91 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, and 6.2 SO/9 in 691.0 innings pitched. His ERA+ has been at or above league average in 8 of his 11 major league seasons. After pitching for the Dodgers, Expos, Padres, Giants, Diamondbacks, Marlins, Rockies, and Indians his career ERA+ currently sits at 110.
Speaking of ERA+, his 2009 mark of 127 would have ranked 4th on the Royals behind only Zack Greinke (205), Joakim Soria (200), and Carlos Rosa (131). His 3.25 SO/BB would have ranked 3rd on the team behind only Greinke (4.75) and Soria (4.31).
There are two negatives to Matt Herges signing with the Royals today, but they are pretty minor.
The first negative is that his presence could block a young arm, like Carlos Rosa, from making the opening day roster. This only comes into play if the Herges forces his way onto the major league team via a solid spring training performance.
The second negative was already in play with the signing of Scott Podsednik, but the Herges signing further highlights how ridiculous it was to give a player like Brian N. Anderson a major league contract and a salary of $700,000. Matt is proof that major league talent can be signed to a minor league contract. Anderson is proof that minor league talent can be signed to a major league contract.
I’ll stop there, because this is about Matt Herges and this is about Dayton Moore doing something right. Since Matt is signed to a minor league deal, the organization has the option to send him to Triple-A and roll the dice with a younger arm in the major league bullpen to start the season. In that scenario, if someone falters or gets injured during the season, the Royals will have Matt Herges ready to come up from Omaha and step right in. An above average ML pitcher waiting in Triple-A is in itself a nice change of pace.
He may be turning 40 right before opening day but he immediately becomes the most reliable and effective arm, not named Zack or Joakim, that will be reporting to Surprise, Arizona in just over a month. If you’re going to get a veteran stopgap, it should be someone who is able to perform at an above average level. Scott Podsednik and Jason Kendall are not, but Matt Herges is. It might be just a minor league contract, but it’s still a shrewd move.