Royals former closer Greg Holland remains unsigned on the free-agent market. The longer he’s unable to find a deal, the more likely it will be that he returns to Kansas City.
The Kansas City Royals expressed interest in bringing back Greg Holland in 2017 even before the 2016 season ended. However, as prices rose for premium relievers at the Winter Meetings, hope of a Royals reunion with Holland began to fade.
Don’t look now, but every day that Holland remains unsigned the chances increase that the KC Royals can cut a deal with their former closer.
All three premium relievers on this winter’s free-agent market have signed. All three deals exceeded Jonathan Papelbon‘s reliever record four-year, $50 million deal. The Giants inked Mark Melancon to a four-year, $62 million contract. Aroldis Chapman got five years and $86 million from the Yankees. Kenley Jansen scored a five-year, $80 million deal from the Dodgers.
Though older than Chapman and Jansen at 31, Holland is eight months younger than Melancon. Greg Holland would clearly be in line for a mega-deal without his arm injury. Unfortunately for him, his rehab showcase didn’t go particularly well in November. Holland didn’t hit higher than the low-90’s on the radar gun in his workout in Florida.
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Given the high demand for premium relievers after teams used bullpens more than ever in the 2016 postseason, Holland’s lack of a deal screams that teams are reluctant to meet his contract expectations coming off of Tommy John surgery. As the calendar inches closer to Spring Training, Holland’s contract demands will have to drop.
Further, as time goes on, it becomes more likely that Royals general manager Dayton Moore will pull the trigger on a deal to move either Lorenzo Cain or Jarrod Dyson. Trading either player will increase the money available for a free-agent. Further, if Moore can extend starting pitcher Danny Duffy, he could also liberate resources by back-loading the deal. The hope is that Moore can shave some dollars off Duffy’s projected $8 million cost in his last arbitration year.
As Holland’s price drops, and if Kansas City’s wherewithal increases, it becomes more likely a deal can happen.
For Holland to come back to KC, I believe he will have to make the decision to accept a one-year deal in hopes of cashing in on a multi-year contract after 2017. Clearly, Holland isn’t getting what he and his agent Scott Boras think he deserves. Otherwise, he would have signed already.
If Holland’s focus becomes scoring a big contract in 2018, then the Kansas City Royals begin to look better and better. Holland would remain in familiar surroundings. He also knows that Kansas City possesses one of the best defenses in baseball. Finally, Kauffman Stadium is a big ballpark that doesn’t give up too many gopher balls. Overall, there aren’t many better display cases than Kansas City for relievers looking to rebuild value.
Stay patient, KC Royals fans. The longer we wait, the better it gets for teams with limited free-agent resources.