Imagine, for a moment, that David Glass decides to fire Dayton Moore before Thursday's game against the Detroit Tigers. Sensing that's it's your moment, you send the Royals owner your resume. Glass is immediately impressed with your ability to win 5 straight World Series when simulating MLB The Show, and hires you on the spot.
You are inheriting a team that is essentially out of contention, and you have two weeks before the trade deadline to improve the team. I assume most of us would attempt to move Ervin Santana, but some might be more reluctant to trade one of the team's more valuable trade chips; closer Greg Holland.
As I'm sure you have noticed, Holland has been one of the best, if not the best reliever in baseball this season. The right-hander has posted a 1.80 ERA while saving 22 games, striking out 60 hitters over 35 innings. Hollands owns a 1.32 FIP and 1.38 xFIP, and has already accumulated 1.6 fWAR.
Holland closing out games has been an advantage for the Royals this season, but is a luxury a non-contending team doesn't need. Royals fans should remember the team's decision to keep Joakim Soria. Soria was great, but the team's he pitched on were terrible. Kansas City also received zero compensation for Soria, letting the closer walk in free agency after his second Tommy John surgery.
Dave Cameron of Fangraphs complied this list of the top-ten relievers under-30 from 2010 to show how quickly relievers wash out:
Carlos Marmol, +2.8 WAR: DFA'd, traded in salary dump, in minors
Brian Wilson, +2.5 WAR: Surgery, hasn't pitched since start of last year
Hong-Chih Kuo, +2.3 WAR: Surgery, inability to throw strikes, out of baseball
Neftali Feliz, +2.0 WAR: Surgery, hasn't pitched in 2013
Sean Marshall, +1.9 WAR: Has pitched 7 innings this year due to sore shoulder
Joakim Soria, +1.9 WAR: Surgery, hasn't pitched since 2011
John Axford, +1.8 WAR: Lost closer job, pitching middle relief, likely non-tender
Daniel Bard, +1.6 WAR: Lost strike zone, sent to AA, now on DL
Jonny Venters, +1.6 WAR: Surgery, out for the season
Juan Oviedo, +1.4 WAR: Surgery, out for the season
Even though Holland is young and dominant, we have little idea how long he will stay dominant. The closer's value will likely never be higher than it is right now, so it makes sense for a team with too many roster holes to compete to try and move Holland to fix one of those holes.
The Soria-Holland situations,however, are not perfect comparisons. What made the Royals decisions with Soria so frustrating is that most people could see that the team was nowhere close to competing, especially once it became clear that Mike Jacobs would not lead this team to glory in 2009.
The 2013 Royals, while still not a contender, are at least closer to contention than the past teams. Holland may be a luxury this season, but he could be a great closer on a contending team next season, if you think that the Royals can improve enough to compete in the offseason without trading the closer,
I think there is little chance that Moore considers a Holland trade, but that's not what interests me. I'm curious to know if the lovely readers of RR would trade the closer, or if they think he will be too important for a 2014 contender to trade away before the 2013 deadline. Normally, the majority of us would advocate trading the relief pitcher to a contending team, but I don't think the case is so cut-and-dry this time.
Holland may be one of the team's best trade chips in the next two weeks, but I understand the reluctance to move him. So I'm curious; if you were GM of the Royals, would you trade Holland?