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.