Imagining an Extension for Greg Holland


Aug 13, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals relief pitcher Greg Holland (56) delivers a pitch in the ninth inning of the game against the Miami Marlins at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

When Greg Holland and the Royals agreed to a one year, $4.675 Million contract to avoid arbitration, speculation began as to what a long term extension may look like for the dominant closer. While he had only closed for a year and a half, Holland’s 2013 season established him amongst the top closers in baseball. In fact, it could be argued that Holland was the best closer in the American League last season. As the final part of a truly excellent bullpen, Holland became a true weapon in the ninth inning.

The biggest problem with attempting to determine an extension for Holland was the arbitration case of another young closer, Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel was not only the best closer in baseball, but he had put together a three year run so remarkable that his arbitration demands, if granted, could have potentially broken the economic model for the position. If Kimbrel went to arbitration and won, his desired salary of $9 Million would have potentially led to Kimbrel receiving a $14 Million payday by the time he reached free agency. If closers were going to be receiving that type of a contract, the chances of Holland remaining in Kansas City would be rather slim.

Now that Kimbrel and the Braves have agreed to a four year extension worth $42 Million, along with an option for a fifth year that would bring the total value to $55 Million, there may be an idea as to what type of contract extension Greg Holland could receive. While Kimbrel has been the dominant closer for the past three years, Holland really only has the 2013 season on his resume. Just as Holland would have received a percentage of what Kimbrel had asked for, a hypothetical extension would likely be not as much as what Kimbrel received.

However, it may provide a framework for Holland. Kimbrel received a backloaded extension, with salaries of $7 million this year, $9 million in 2015, $11 million in 2016 and $13 million in 2017. Holland may be willing to accept a similar type of contract, perhaps a four year deal worth around $32 Million with an option for a fifth year, structured in the same way that Kimbrel’s contract was.

Such a deal would potentially benefit both sides. If Greg Holland does continue to be the lights out closer that he had been, then the Royals get a bargain. If Holland implodes, he still receives his paycheck. Both sides would be taking a risk, but it could also benefit both the Royals and Holland.

The Kansas City Royals may now have an idea as to what it would take to keep Greg Holland around for the next few years. Now, it comes down to whether or not both sides are willing to work out an extension to keep Holland around.