Greg Holland may be celebrating with another team in 2014. John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Look for Kansas City Royals to trade Greg Holland


When the Kansas City Royals let loose of Joakim Soria after his Tommy John surgery, Royals fans wondered if they would ever regain the consistency from the closer spot that they had come to expect. Dan Quisenberry and Jeff Montgomery had combined to save 548 games in their careers. Soria secured another 160 games in a Royals uniform.

But as Soria’s successor, Greg Holland, stumbled into the 2013 season, Royals fans had the jitters. Holland, as we know, went on to save 47 games while compiling a 1.21 ERA with 103 strike outs in 67 innings. The word dominant doesn’t even do his season justice. His walks + hits per innings pitched was 0.866. No wonder he only gave up 9 earned runs all year in 68 appearances.

And now is the time to trade him.

Popular trade rumors have Billy Butler and even Eric Hosmer being dealt to obtain offense, either to fill holes at second base or right field positions. Neither of those makes sense. Butler, for all his slow-of-foot faults, is still a hitting machine. Hosmer showed in the second half last year that he can carry a team offensively.Trading either of those for offense is a zero-sum gain.

The Royals have pitching, more than a small market could imagine having. And even with two rotation spots to fill, it’s entirely possible to look at Luke Hochevar, Yordano Ventura and Aaron Crow as possible closers, or even closers by committee.

Hochevar? Don’t scream yet. When you look at this numbers last year, they were very similar, albeit not equal to Holland’s. A 1.92 ERA, a WHIP of .825 with 82 strike outs in 70.1 innings. With Crow and Ventura behind him, Moore and Manager Ned Yost have options. The Royals certainly wouldn’t be the first successful team to use a closer-by-committee approach, if needed.

The options of those 3 relievers are far better than the combined equivalent options at either second base (Chris Getz and Emilio Bonifacio) or at right field (David Lough and Justin Maxwell). None of those four players had the offensive equivalent of Hochevar’s 1.92 ERA and .825 WHIP. Holland can fetch a bundle. Especially from a team that needs a closer. The Arizona Diamondbacks are just that team.

The D-backs blew an astonishing 29 saves in 2013. The league average was 19 blown saves. That difference would have been enough to put the D-backs right back in the Wild Card hunt.While back end pitching is a weakness of the D-backs, depth at infield is not. The D-backs have a logjam at shortstop. Chris Owings and Didi Gregorius will battle for the position this coming spring. Gregorius held the position last year, but Owings is a suitable alternative. Gregorius hit .252 in 103 games in 2013, while Owings owns a .291 average in a brief 20 games.

A move to second base by either is a possibility. Why second base? Because that spot would need to be filled if the Royals trade Holland for the D-back’s second baseman Aaron Hill. Hill, a 9-year veteran, owns a career .273 batting average. He has had 5 seasons of double-digit home run production (11, 17, 26 twice and 36), two of which came in the past 2 years. He averages 37 doubles, 19 home runs and 78 runs batted in per season. He also averages 47 walks per season. He hits for average, has pop in his bat and gets on base. He is signed through 2016, with $11,000,000 due in 2014 and $12,000,000 due in each of the following 2 years. He would come at a price, dollar-wise and trade-wise.

And, in case you need a twist with this possible move, add in the fact that Matt Davidson, the D-backs’ 3B power hitting prospect (shifted from 1B) who is stuck in the minors behind first baseman Paul Goldshmidt and third baseman Martin Prado could be an intriguing throw-in swap for Mike Moustakas – a change of venue move, so to speak.

Much was made about General Manager Dayton Moore not signing catcher George Kottaras. Many thought it was because Moore had reached the end of his spending limit and needed to save a few hundred thousand dollars. On the contrary, that move was designed to free up a bit more money because the contracts associated with players he has to trade are worth far less than those associated with players he is looking to acquire. There will be a trade. Letting Kottaras go did not signal the end of Moore’s winter dealings. Owner David Glass gave up more in the trade with Tampa Bay last year. He’ll do it again if Moore says the move is right.

Holland made $539,500 last year and is arbitration eligible this year. Compare that to Hill’s $11,000,000 contract for next year and you can see why Moore is pinching pennies everywhere he can.

Whether it is with the D-backs or another team, a trade is looming. The Royals have pitching and need hitting. It makes no sense to give up hitting to get hitting. Pitching is the Royals’ commodity. And to get a player of Hill’s caliber, a team like the D-backs will have to have one of their glaring holes filled. Holland can be the answer to their 29 blown saves. Hill is a perfect fit for the Royals at second base.

Winter meetings are just around the corner. Don’t be surprised if Moore moves his biggest commodity out of the bullpen to fill second base or right field.

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Tags: Aaron Hill Arizona Diamondbacks Greg Holland Kansas City Royals

  • flan50

    I’m optimistic and afraid at the same time. Yes, the Royals still really need to upgrade, and due to Glass’s penurious ways, it will likely have to be via trade. However, I shudder whenever I think about GMDM making a trade. He’s been fleeced enough to start a wool factory. GM’s around the league are likely rubbing their hands together, tripping over each other to get to the front of the line. We need to upgrade, but be afraid Royals’ fans, be very afraid!

  • Ed Connealy

    Great article. I have been crowing, about trading Hosmer because of his trade value, but Holland makes much much more sense and is even more replaceable.

    • jimfetterolf

      I doubt anyone disputes Hosmer’s value, but trading him for an elderly, overpriced 2nd baseman will get lots of argument. Holland is a good possibility if it’s for young, controllable players, including the right 3-tool middle infielder. Otherwise it makes little sense.

    • Glenn Craven

      Much as I’m no fan of Dayton Moore, I’m glad neither the author nor you are his replacements-in-waiting.

      Trade Eric Hosmer after he finally seems to have it figured out?

      Trade a young, affordable, lockdown closer like Greg Holland for an $11-$12 million second baseman entering his age 32 season?

      Well, I’ll admit that sounds a lot like Dayton Moore.

      It’s remarkable how the author has spun Aaron Hill into massive-upside option, writing: “(Hill) has had 5 seasons of double-digit home run production (11, 17, 26 twice and 36), two of which came in the past 2 years.”

      Golly, a second-sacker who hits 36 homers would be awesome. Which happened for Hill exactly once in nine seasons.

      Take his three best HR seasons (26, 26, 36) out of the equation — face it, those are aberrant seasons — and you have a guy who normally (two thirds of his seasons) averages about eight homers a year. And is a 68 percent base-stealer (not good enough to green-light him) who only stole one bag last year (four CS) and is only getting slower. And is an average fielder who will only lose range as he ages. Three of his four best seasons as measured by WAR took place before 2010; with the exception of a 4.8 in 2012 Hill has been less than two wins above an average replacement second baseman the past four seasons — and again, is entering his age-32 season.

      If you’re selling-out the entire future in hopes of winning now — and, especially considering the Wil Myers-James Shields deal that will sting for years to come, Dayton Moore may well be — then go ahead and make such trades.

      If you want the Royals to be as good or better in 2015, 2016 and 2017 as they were in 2013 and might be next year, you don’t trade Hosmer and Holland. Certainly not for a journeyman like Aaron Hill.

  • jimfetterolf

    Very good piece.

    Hill looks interesting, I assume he’s coming off injury only playing 85 games for 2.0 WAR, making him about equivalent to David Lough’s production. That compares to Boni’s 1.0 fW in 42 games. Royals just need to decide if Bonifacio was for real and whether Hill’s power will play at the K. That will decide whether Hill is worth $12m and Holland. I think I would rather trade Holland for prospects, including a middle infielder with glove, speed, and some hit tool. Second base doesn’t need much arm and power doesn’t play at the K, so the right three-tool 2nd base prospect would be my target, along with A and high A pitching. Or we could trade Gordon for roughly twice what Holland would bring back and get on the correct side of the business model.

  • moretrouble

    I respectfully disagree with the author. First, Holland didn’t stumble into 2013. He pitched very well after inheriting the closer’s job after Broxton was traded in 2012. Second, I take exception to the implication that the Royals have a lousy offense. Yes, it needs improvement – but the second half offensive production was much better than May, and it was one heck of a run by the Royals down the stretch. The KC brass thinks they’ll get better production whether they make a trade or not. I certainly hope they do add offense, but why turn a strength into a weakness. A closer by committee? I do not believe trading off core players will help the franchise. Trade the fringe? Yes. Take a flyer on a previously injured player? Yes. Sign a free agent? Yes. Trade your core guys? No.

  • flan50

    I’d rather see KC keep Holland if they are really going for it in 2014 (and with the Shields situation, they have to be) and try to package Hoch with a prospect. I’m also leery of these 2nd baseman that have had high-teen HR power (Hill, Kinsler, Johnson, etc.). I don’t think that will play well in Kaufman and isn’t worth the cost. Rather see Royals pay the money to Infante and look for the power in RF.

  • KCMOWHOA

    A lot of this seems unfounded, unless you have an in or a wiretap at the Royals front office. Trading Hosmer would be the last thing they would do, and while trading Butler is a fair idea the team has said in so many words that it doesn’t make sense now. The return for Butler would have to equal or better his production and I don’t know where that would come from, or who would give that up for Butler.

    The Holland trade is more likely and could work out in our favor, but Moore is too inconsistent to read on who he’ll keep or trade. He traded probably his best draft pick ever/future rookie of the year without ever even seeing him play in KC (Myers), but held on to Santana when he knew all along we couldn’t afford to resign him. I used to defend him, but his decision making recently has left me scratching my head.

    The Royals need to stick to developing and relying on young draft picks rather than playing the trade or free agent game. Moore has shown time and time again that he’s not a good enough judge of talent in matters like this. We just don’t have the bankroll to risk a lot in the trade or free agent market.

    • The Plaindealer

      I do not believe Moore & Co. are looking to trade Hosmer. Several blog authors have posed that as a possibility, however. Certainly, Butler’s name has been put out there by many as a trade candidate. My belief is a trade is imminent, and Holland is the most likely to be traded because he will bring the best value in return. That is all debatable, of course.

  • Chad Woelk

    What needs to really happen is for Glass to stop pinching pennies and not trade away players due to financial excuses. Glass bought the team for 96 million. They are now worth 457 million. He bought the team 13 years ago and profits around 10-30 million every year after operating expenses. On the low end then, Glass has profited over 491 million since the year 2000. Yeah please keep telling the fans who spend their hard earned money that your not making any money. This is what needs to be addressed instead of talking about what players we should trade to save money. Shame on you Mr. Gl(ass).

  • Dave Lowe

    Guys, trading Holland at this time doesn’t make much sense to me. We have control of a dominant closer for multiple years until free agency. The time to trade Holland will be in the year he qualifies for free agency, or perhaps the year before.

    As for trading Eric Hosmer, why would be trade our best hitter when we are searching for more offense? That’s just ridiculous. He’s also a gold glove 1B.

    In the same vein, trading our best defender and a consistently good hitter in Alex Gordon before the last year of his contract doesn’t make sense.

    Now, I understand the concept of selling high, at the peak of value. But given the Royals payroll constraint realities, they must milk every bit of talent out of these guys before they lose them to free agency.

    Or, they can try to extend them now.

    Guys I can see trading now? Billy Butler. But it’s hard b/c (a) it can only be to an AL team due to his poor glove, and (b) we would be losing one of our best hitters and the best hitter over the last several years. If we are trying to acquire more offense, trading Butler for hitting is sort of a wash.

    I can also see them trading Luke Hochevar, a setup man at the peak of his value. He can be turned into a starter if a team wants to do that (the Royals might end up doing it, as GMDM stated on a WHB 810 interview last week.

    The bottom line is that Glass needs to pony up some dough in 2014, as this is the last Shields season, and GO FOR IT as far as the postseason. Spend some money to acquire a free agent that can hit in RF. As for 2B, perhaps Christian Colon show he is ready to live up to the first round draft pick?

    David

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