Much like the Pirates a year ago, the Royals, despite ending a long postseason drought, will most likely not see a significant payroll bump next season. It will be business as usual in K.C. That means they’ll look to move players who will see spikes in salary, picking their spots on who they keep and who they don’t.
One of those players who should be on the move is closer Greg Holland. Holland has been magnificent in his Royals career, particularly in the last two seasons. In those 144 games, post season included, Holland has posted a 1.28 ERA, earned 100 saves, and struck out 208 batters in 140 innings. Incredible numbers.
Holland has just over four years of MLB service time. That means the Royals can control him through arbitration for two more seasons, before he’s eligible for free agency. Holland made just under $4.7 million in 2014. His salary will likely bump to around $8 million next year, and potentially $12 million in 2016.
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We know relief pitchers can be fickle, and that year-to-year performance can be difficult to predict. You can, however, assume reasonably close production for Greg Holland to what we’ve recently seen. Holland turns 29 this month. and his value will never be higher. In a a trade, the return of a well-regarded prospect or two is likely. He has an incredible streak of 151 straight games of throwing one inning or less. The Royals aren’t a team that should pay $8 million for that kind of reliever.
The Royals also have Wade Davis, Kelvin Herrera and Brandon Finnegan returning. They might also be able to re-sign Luke Hochevar, who had Tommy John surgery last spring and is a free agent. Hochevar was Wade Davis before Davis was Wade Davis.
A failed starter, Hochever went to the bullpen and threw in 58 games for the Royals in 2013. His 1.92 ERA in 70 innings with 82 strikeouts and 41 hits allowed were impressive. K.C. might be able to get him cheaply.
The Royals’ pen takes a hit without Holland, but the $8 million saved, prospect return and replacements they have in the bullpen make it a hit they can sustain and makes perfect sense. The model they have operated finally worked. No need to change now.