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MLB Roundup 1/8: White Sox sign Kelvin Herrera

Another big reliever comes off the board

Baltimore Orioles v Washington Nationals Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Kelvin Herrera signs with White Sox

There isn’t a whole lot happening around the league right now, but the one market that does seem to be moving is the reliever market. That makes sense, of course, as every team needs a lot of relievers to get through an entire season, and even rebuilding clubs don’t have enough relievers on hand to get through an offseason without a signing. Everyone needs relievers at all times. The Red Sox are among them, as they have a high-profile need in the late innings to join Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier. Just a few days ago there were six at least semi-viable options, and now that number has been cut in half. David Robertson signed in Philadelphia, Zach Britton re-upped in New York, and now on Monday Kelvin Herrera signed a contract with the White Sox. The deal is worth a guaranteed two years and $18 million with a vesting option for $10 million.

For the White Sox, this deal makes sense as Chicago is getting ready to emerge from their rebuild in an AL Central that could be up for grabs with Cleveland not doing anything to make themselves better this winter. The White Sox have also, of course, been surprisingly in on both Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. For the Red Sox, this means one of their presumed favorite targets is off the board, and he signed a very reasonable deal. There are real red flags for Herrera and he may not even be ready for the start of the year, but he was connected to Boston after the team tried to acquire him before the July 31 trade deadline. As has been the case since Robertson signed with the Phillies, it sure seems like Craig Kimbrel is the top target right now.

Blake Parker signs in Minnesota

Herrera wasn’t the only reliever to sign on Monday, with the Twins also making a move and grabbing a former closer. Blake Parker certainly isn’t in that upper echelon of relievers available this year, but there is plenty of intrigue here. Among the lower-tier names available this winter, he was among the more intriguing. The former Angels closer agreed to terms with Minnesota on a one-year, $3.2 million deal. Minnesota, like Chicago, could take a step forward and potentially challenge Cleveland in 2019, and adding more talent to their relief corps is an important step in that process. Like I said, Parker wasn’t part of that higher tier of reliever to which the Red Sox have been connected, but if they were to look at cheap second options or fallback plans, Parker likely would have been among them.

MLB sets revenue records

A report came out from Forbes’ Maury Brown on Monday that showed MLB setting a new record for annual revenue, raking in a whopping $10.3 billion in 2018. That’s wild, particularly for a sport that many have been declaring dead for years. There’s an argument this model may not be sustainable, and I’m certainly not smart enough in this area to argue against it. What I do know is that the league is flush with cash right now. The easy — and fair — connection to make is with major-league player salaries, as they continue to get a lower percentage of league revenue year after year. My stance here has been made clear over the last couple years, though, and we don’t need to get back into that.

The real travesty that this news can remind us of, though, is the salary of minor-league players. It’s always been ridiculous that MLB refuses to pay a living wage to minor-league players, but it’s even more eye-openingly infuriating when you see the numbers in front of you. A company that took in over $10 billion in revenue last year spent some of that money to lobby our government to ensure they don’t have to pay minor-league players minimum wage. That is absolute hot garbage, and while the slow free agency and smaller piece of the pie being received by the players is an issue, it pales in comparison to this. This is a real and significant black eye on the game.