Then there were three. After coming to terms Emilio Bonifacio, Luke Hochevar and Eric Hosmer, the Royals were left with three players heading to arbitration. Greg Holland, Aaron Crow and Justin Maxwell have now exchanged numbers with the Royals ahead of their hearings.
Of those players, Holland is likely the most important to the Royals success. His 2013 season, when he put together a 1.21 ERA and 0.866 WHiP with 47 saves, was enough to put him in the conversation for best closer in the American League. In fact, Holland may be in the conversation with Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman for the best closer in baseball.
So, what is that worth? According to the numbers exchanged, Greg Holland thinks that his 2013 season should earn him $5.2 Million this year, while the Royals countered with $4.1 Million. Either salary would be far less than what than what a closer of that caliber could earn on the open market.
As yet another young piece on the Royals that could be a major part of the future, Holland should be someone that the Royals consider offering an extension to. With only five closers earning a salary at $8 Million or more last season, it may be possible to extend Holland for a price that helps both sides.
This may also be the last opportunity that the Royals get to offer an extension to Holland without having to break the bank. Kimbrel is also eligible for arbitration, and has asked for $9 Million while the Braves have countered at $6.5 Million. Although the salary for closers has dropped over the past few seasons, Kimbrel has pitched at a level that has not been seen previously. Even if the Braves win their hearing, it is likely that Kimbrel will be the highest paid closer by the end of his arbitration eligibility, and may create another salary level for closers.
As a closer, Greg Holland may not get the credit he deserves for being an important part of the Royals success. Closers are often considered replaceable, until the point in time when the new closer starts to get hit around and blow saves. With the Royals on the verge of having a young team that is expected to contend over the next few years, keeping Holland around could help that process.
If the Royals consider Greg Holland a part of their future, now is the time to look into an extension. Otherwise, the cost to keep Holland may well skyrocket in the future.