Would A Greg Holland Trade Help The Kansas City Royals?
Before discussing a Greg Holland trade, let’s first reflect back on Joakim Soria‘s reign as closer in Kansas City. The former Rule 5 pick surprised with a 17 save rookie season in 2007. Having won the closer job, Soria averaged 38 saves with a 1.84 ERA from 2008-2010. But while he dominated, the Royals floundered, leaving writers questioning the utility of a top closer when dealing him would help build a bright future.
2011 saw Soria struggle. He briefly lost the closer role and ended the year with 28 saves and a 4.03 ERA. Tommy John Surgery followed in 2012 and Kansas City was left to think about what could have been. Soria later signed and returned to action with the Texas Rangers and enters 2014 as a dark horse closer candidate.
While Soria was rehabbing, Holland was earning the closer role in K.C. After a 16 save 2012, the right hander saved 47 games for an 86 win Royals team. It was the highest win total by Kansas City since 1989, Bo Jackson‘s breakthrough season. The third place finish may be a sign of things to come if their young core of players continues to develop.
This leaves the Royals with a difficult decision. Does the organization lock up Holland with the hope he remains healthy and productive for years? Or, is it time to cash in on a valuable trade chip and explore a Greg Holland trade before history has a chance to repeat itself?
When teams trade for a quality closer, I often reference a conversation with a scouting contact where he discussed the luxury and comfort of having an elite closer. And while the Tigers didn’t trade for Joe Nathan, the jumped at the opportunity to add a dominant ninth inning pitcher to help fend off upstart franchises like the the Royals.
It would be easy to urge Kansas City to fight fire with fire and hold onto their elite closer. It would be even simpler to state Soria’s demise is independent of Holland and it’s best to ignore team history. I won’t do either though. Not cashing in on Soria was a costly blow and the Royals should learn from those mistakes and leverage a team strength to fill remaining holes.
The Bullpen Post Greg Holland Trade
After transitioning to a relief pitcher, Luke Hochevar was a force in 2013. With a 2.96 FIP including 41 hits and 82 strikeouts in 70 1/3 innings pitched, he was closer dominant in a setup role. Cashing in on Holland would allow the Royals to build Hochevar’s value as a closer in the hope of cashing in on him as well.
Speaking of starters turned relievers, it’s in the Royals best interest to transition Wade Davis permanently. His career path to date has been similar to that of Hochevar as a 4/5 starter who mixes the occasional lights out performance with a number of so-so starts. As a reliever with the Rays in 2012, he posted closer strikeout totals, albeit with too many walks.
Louis Coleman dominated Triple-A and carried that success to the Major League level. Regression is expected in 2014, but he’s still projected to be a quality bullpen arm capable of pitching in the sixth or seventh inning.
Tim Collins and Aaron Crow have similar peripherals as pitchers who strike out about a batter per inning while walking too many. Neither strike me as eighth inning options, but both are solid bullpen pieces nonetheless.
My choice for the eighth inning on a Holland-less Royals club would be Kelvin Herrera. In the second half of 2013, one could argue Herrera was every bit as dominant as Holland based on his 1.58 FIP. Just 24, he’ll eventually close for the Royals.
Few teams are able to trade a dominant closer and still boast one of the better bullpens in Major League Baseball. The Royals are in this position. Could a Greg Holland trade net a center fielder of the future and third base prospect to challenge Mike Moustakas? The Chicago White Sox added half of that equation (Matt Davidson) for a lesser closer. Yes, the Royals staff is built for starters to throw five and let the bullpen shorten games, but they have the pieces to do it with or without Holland.
13 Feb 2014 / Mike Newman /
Categories: MLB Analysis
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