Jul 122013

by John Viril—

I know it sounds crazy.

The Royals still have hopes of getting into contention. Greg Holland might be the most dominating closer in baseball today. The Royals also have reasonable hopes they can contend next season—which is the first time they have been able to credibly say that since the 90′s. All of those reasons make trading Holland seem like a ridiculous idea.

But, Greg Holland will probably never have higher trade value than he has today.

Given the multitude of teams still in the wild card or division hunt, there would be plenty of bidders for Holland’s services. Not only is Holland dominant, he’s also pre-arbitration eligible—which means he’s currently making little more than league minimum. Holland could push a contender over-the-top. Plus, he’d be deadly in the playoffs.

Consequently, general manager Dayton Moore could demand a top prospect paired with at least two other farmhands with reasonable major-league aspirations. This move might not necessarily be giving up on the short term. The Royals could land a farmhand with more upside potential than even an elite closer possesses and could help the team next season.

The Royals would still have multiple hard-throwing bullpen arms at their disposal, including Kelvin Herrera in AAA (who seems to be working through the mechanical issues at that ruined his command).

Trading Holland would cause outraged screams from most Royals ¬†fans. Yet, fangraphs.com’s Dave Cameron wrote an interesting piece that looked at the top young closers of 2010. Cameron contended that closers not named Mariano Rivera regularly fail. They are not franchise cornerstones you build a team around. Instead, Cameron pointed out that of the top 10 young relievers in 2010 (as measured by fWAR), not a single one had significant value by 2013.

The odds of coming out a ahead in a Holland trade—even the short term—are outrageously high.

Of course, such a deal would only occur if the Royals fall out of contention over the next 20 days. With Dayton Moore still harboring hopes that the Royals can win the Central Division this season, dealing Holland is unlikely. Trading either Holland or starter Ervin Santana would be a clear admission that Moore’s attempt at building a winner this season had failed. Moore, however, would then have the opportunity to reload the depleted top-levels of his farm system.

Of course, such a move would force Dayton Moore to at least tacitly admit that trading Wil Myers was premature. Good luck with that.

 Posted by at 2:08 am

  10 Responses to “Royals should consider dealing Greg Holland”

  1. Ignorant idea!

    • I feel the love. But, seriously, doesn’t the quality of the idea depend on what you get for him? Looking at the longevity of closers is a sobering experience.

  2. no no no no!!!!

    • I love sports. In no other human endeavor do adults think that acting like a 5-year-old is the right thing to do. That’s not intended as a veiled insult. I LIKE that sports makes us act that way (me included).

  3. I would love to see Holland traded to anyplace where he could get some respect and recognition. It is certainly not in Kansas City where too many people are determined to go up in smoke with Kelvin Herrera. Anyone who could write this article can’t read stat sheets or even watch games intelligently. Compare Holland to Craig Kimbrel. The Braves announcers did when KC played them. They concluded the only difference was Holland plays in Kansas City where he is baseball’s best kept secret. When the KC telecast ran a poll on the impact player of the first half, Holland wasn’t even one of the 4 choices. Do him a favor and get him out of there.

    • Louis, were you sleeping through Joakim Soria’s KC career? In retrospect, wouldn’t you have liked to have cashed him in—say after the 2010 season?

      Kimbrel is an excellent comparison for Holland—IMHO. However, Holland has a lower k/9 and a higher BB/9—though he plays in a league with regular DH’s. Perhaps you should click on the link I provided to fangraphs’ breakdown of reliever performances.

      Right now, he’s a two WAR value player—which is about league average for a lineup regular. What about if you could get a player where 2 WAR is his floor expectation at 2B (if Gio continues to fail to live up to his AAA numbers) or RF, where Lough will turn into a pumpkin if his BA tails off?

  4. After tonight the comparisons between Holland and Kimbrel are real easy even for the mathematically challenged. Holland has pitched 35 innings. Kimbrel has pitched 35.1. Holland has walked 11, Kimbrel 12. Holland has fanned 60, Kimbrel 54, Holland has the edge but not much difference except that Holland plays in KC. That’s why I am all for a trade for Holland’s sake. I did sleep through Soria’s career because he also played in KC. Do you seriously think a real organization like Atlanta would consider or would even have fans or writers who would consider trading Kimbrel if the Braves were 7 games out just to maybe get players who may be able to replace Dan Ugly and Jason Wayward?

    • I think “real” organizations like the A’s and Rays are more viable comparisons for the Royals. And, yes, these are the kind of deals that Billy Beane and Andrew Friedman make all the time.

      Remember when Beane traded away Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill before the the 2012 season? People thought Beane was giving up in the short term, and he ended up in the playoffs. He ended up replacing them with the young pitching prospects he received in trade (Jarrod Parker and Tommy Milone)…and has more prospects still in the pipeline from that deal.

      Right now, Holland is likely over-valued on the trade market vs. his on-field production. Getting more player value is how you build a winning team—and the Royals aren’t quite there yet IMHO.

      I could be wrong—of course. Maybe the position players will rally in the 2nd half. But, right now it appears that the Royals need more offense to contend.

  5. This kind of thinking is why the Royals will never be a serious contender. You should only look to move someone if you have a reliable option for replacement and/or, if you are out of it for the year and there is absolutely no way you will be able to keep the player beyond the current year.

    • What if you can get more long term value in return? Obviously, you don’t do the deal if the trade return isn’t high enough. However, I suspect Holland could be over-valued right now. If you could do a deal like Beane pulled off with Cahill and Gio Gonzalez, why wouldn’t you pull the trigger?

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