Kansas City Royals Should Not Offer Greg Holland Arbitration

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We knew that the Kansas City Royals would have some difficult decisions to make this offseason in regards to their bullpen. Wade Davis has a team option for $8 Million next year, and Greg Holland will be eligible for arbitration for the final time. Since no one makes less in arbitration, Holland is likely looking at an increase over the $8.25 Million he is making this year.

The problem is, now that Holland has lost the closer role and has an issue with his elbow, no one can say for sure whether or not he will be back to his previous level of dominance. Likewise, the true nature of Holland’s injury is not being revealed, just that his elbow has been sore since the All-Star Break, and that it is not going to be any better this season.

Will that elbow require offseason surgery? Will Holland be able to come back as the dominant reliever he had once been? What, exactly, is wrong with his “cranky” elbow? The answers to those questions may well determine the answer to another question: Will the Royals offer Holland arbitration this offseason?

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That is the $9.5 Million (my guess on future salary through arbitration) question for the Kansas City Royals. Even with the elbow problems and the relative ineffectiveness from Greg Holland this season, he has been considered an above average pitcher this season. His 3.83 ERA has been good enough for a 108 ERA+, and Holland did manage to notch over thirty saves for the third consecutive season. Even if he has not been that same stellar pitcher of the past three years, that performance will still likely earn Holland a raise.

And with that probability, the Royals may find themselves in a position where it is more financially prudent to refrain from offering arbitration to Holland. Davis has proven that he can handle the closer role this season, and the Royals do have quite the knack for locating relief pitchers through free agency or in their system. Holland, despite his excellence with the Royals, may be a luxury that they cannot afford.

However, that is not to say that Holland’s tenure with the Royals will be coming to an end. He could still be brought back as a free agent, just as the Royals brought Luke Hochevar back last season. It is simply that, based on his performance this season and the concerns over his elbow, Holland would be too expensive at the price he would likely earn through arbitration.

Greg Holland has had a great run for the Kansas City Royals, but the past should not determine the future. If they do choose to bring him back next year, it should be through free agency – arbitration would have too high of a price tag.

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