Sitting with a 31-32 record and just 3.5 games out of a crowded American League Central, the Kansas City Royals have some decisions to make. Some will be decided by their record between now and the July 31st deadline, while others already weigh on them as they deal with the balancing act of trying to win now and playing the long game in terms of organizational depth.
For example, the Royals already know they face a tough decision with ace starting pitcher James Shields. With Shields a free agent at season’s end, the Royals have to navigate whether they should keep him for a possible playoff run or shop him at the trade deadline.
That’s during the season. Could the Royals also face a tough decision after the season, specifically with regards to their loaded bullpen? That is the question posed by Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star, who wonders if the Royals won’t have to shop either Wade Davis or closer Greg Holland.
Given the dynamics of their respective contracts, Mellinger believes Holland could be the guy on the trade market:
Davis has team options for $7 million next year, $8 million in 2016 and $10 million in 2017. Holland has two years of arbitration remaining, and will almost certainly make more than Davis in each of those seasons…
…So one of the great combinations of setup men and closers in recent baseball history will only be a one-year show.
That doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Davis is showing himself to have the goods of reliable closer, and the Royals are showing themselves to have a hole or two they could fill by trading Holland this offseason.
A lot can change between now and the off-season, of course. If the Royals make a run, they might not be so concerned about having too many holes on their roster to address via trade.
Holland is a truly elite closer (18 saves, 13.9 K/9). More importantly, his stuff suggests sustained success for a closer because of his velocity and his ability to miss bats. In theory that means he would still fetch a nice return in a trade, even with the immediate buyer’s remorse for the Oakland A’s and Jim Johnson still fresh on everybody’s minds. A potential deal would also be impacted by what they do with guys like Shields and Billy Butler during the season.
If the Royals don’t finally meet their own expectations this season, there could be a number of moves, including one involving their All-Star closer.