The Nationals, last night, got the ball rolling on MLB trade season when they dealt three prospects for Royals’ reliever Kelvin Herrera. While this deadline isn’t set up to be as exciting as some in years past, the relief pitcher market is the one bound to be hot.

Herrera got a lighter package than I was expecting, as the Royals got OF Blake Perkins, 3B Kelvin Gutierrez, and RHP Yohanse Morel for the rental arm. Given all of their expiring contracts, I didn’t expect the Nats to be the team going after a rental. However, given the cheap price they had to give up, it’s not a bad idea.

It does kick off what should be a very interesting trade season, however. Herrera is the first domino to fall in a long line of relief pitchers that will get dealt, and probably at a relatively cheap price.

If one team lost that Herrera trade yesterday, it’s Dan Duquette and the Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles have two relievers, Zach Britton and Brad Brach, who are both on the market. While they do still have Darren O’Day and Mychal Givens, who have long-term contracts, Britton and Brach are both rental players. Neither of them are as good as Kelvin Herrera, which doesn’t bode well for the Orioles at all.

As for O’Day and Givens, it’s unclear as to how the Herrera trade affects their potential package, if at all. If Givens is indeed dealt, he is going to command the largest trade package, but it’s infinitely more likely that Britton and/or Brach get traded away from the Orioles. Truth be told, the Orioles actually have a decent bullpen with tradable assets, but the question is whether or not the Orioles are actually going to end up trading, well anyone.

Another team which is going to be coming up in these conversations a lot is the Padres, but their general manager A.J. Preller isn’t exactly making it easy to make a deal.

According to Morosi, Preller wants a player like Rafael Devers for Brad Hand. If Preller doesn’t lower his price, Brad Hand will be a Padre come August 1st.

Preller has always been one for the big move. He was declared the “Winner Of The Offseason” a few years back for adding James Shields, Jimmy Rollins, and Howie Kendrick, among others. In a market like San Diego, Preller has always been one to chase the headlines. The Padres aren’t exactly irrelevant, especially after the Eric Hosmer signing, but Preller wants his organization to get the national TV broadcasts and ESPN profiles.

Brad Hand is not worth Rafael Devers. He’s a great reliever with long-term team control, but he isn’t worth Rafael Devers, and there isn’t any precedent to believe that Preller can leverage the Red Sox into a guy like Devers.

However, Preller cannot be happy looking at the Herrera trade. Relievers, especially those with long-term control, may not have the same value demonstrated in the Andrew Miller trade from a year ago. Given Preller’s asking price, he may not get traded, and I don’t think he will.

Needless to say, with the amount of all the teams tanking, there will be plenty of relievers available at the deadline. And with the stark disparity in talent between bad and good teams, it’ll be the reliever market that is popping by the deadline.

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