The Kansas City Royals, in recent years, have come to be known for their defense and their bullpen. That bullpen was definitely a major part of the Royals playoff run, as Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland turned the Royals playoff games into six inning contests.
However, that trio may soon be broken up. Both Herrera and Holland are arbitration eligible, and while Davis had his option picked up, he has two team options worth a combined $18 Million coming due. That dynamite bullpen may see some changes.
With that in mind, former major league pitcher and present writer for FOXSports C.J. Nitkowski opined that the Royals should look to trade Greg Holland while his value is at the highest point. He does not see the Royals payroll significantly increasing, pointing to the Pirates payroll from 2013 to 2014 as an example. After all, it is not as if the Royals have a history of high payrolls and spending lavishly in free agency.
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In a vacuum, trading Holland for a top prospect or two makes sense. If Holland was to make the $8 Million that Nitkowski envisions in arbitration, the Royals would be paying approximately $15 Million, almost a sixth of their payroll, for their set up man and closer. With Davis looking like a prospective closer himself, it would seem that having Holland and Davis would be a luxury that the Royals would not be able to truly afford.
However, the Royals biggest strength was that bullpen. Although most of that bullpen is under team control, and the Royals may be able to bring Luke Hochevar back on a team friendly contract, having a proven closer in Greg Holland to close games out makes a tremendous difference. How often do teams get rid of a closer, figuring that they can plug in another reliever or a setup man, only to find out that the pitcher in question cannot handle the job?
The Royals are not going to outspend the competition for the top hitters or the top starting pitching in free agency. With the present economic system in baseball, such a strategy just does not work for the Royals. However, they can build a bullpen and build a roster based on speed and defense, aiming to keep the game close through six innings before utilizing their strength, that excellent bullpen.
Keeping Greg Holland would be a step towards the Royals keeping that advantage. As one of the three best closers in baseball, and perhaps the best closer in the American League, Holland is a weapon for the Royals in the ninth inning. Would Wade Davis, Kelvin Herrera or even Brandon Finnegan be able to perform at that level?
The Royals need to keep the advantages that they have. That includes keeping, and potentially looking to extend. Greg Holland.