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Royals fire sale trade value: Herrera, Davis, and Holland

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The trade value of the Royals bullpen Cerberus.

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

With Andrew Miller signing with the Yankees recently, it removes one potential suitor who's in need for a closer from the market. Miller signed for four years and $39,000,000 ($9.75M AAV). That will essentially pay him slightly less than a 1.5 win player. For reference, Miller was worth nearly 2.5 wins in 2014. His transcendence came from tweaking his arm angle, commanding his slider better, and gained the ability the retire left and right handed batters finally.

One less reliever, a really good reliever - likely elite, available for trade or for hire on the market increases the supply while slightly decreasing the demand (since there is one less club). In actuality, every team wants Andrew Miller. In reality though, not every team had the means or purpose to acquire Andrew Miller, the difference between perhaps a perfect competition market and perhaps a monopolistic competition market (not an Econ major here). There are teams that were in position to sign Miller (A: had the available money, B: in a position to compete in 2015 C: needed a closer - likely in that order) and those that while they could use an Andrew Miller, they weren't in the position to use an Andrew Miller effectively given his salary and the teams goals. Also of note, the Yankees happen to be a team were cost is generally not a problem to them aka can afford an expensive reliever, even a very good/elite one, ala Holland/Davis/Miller.

Miller was reportedly pursued the heaviest by the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, and Astros. You'll notice that perhaps one team stands out in that group. Houston is still in the early stages of a complete rebuild yet pursued an expensive reliever despite winning just 70 games last year. Miller signed for four years so it would reason to believe that the Astros expect to compete in the next four years and likely in the next two years or so if they wanted to sign Miller (there's little reason to sign Miller to a four-year deal if you only expect to compete in year-four).

With the ground work laid in the introductory article we can jump straight to what one of the Royals very good or elite reliever may cost an acquiring team.

I think the methodology is likely to underrate what teams will pay for closers though. A few years back, Matt Swartz found that teams were paying nearly 3-4 times as much $/WAR for relievers than some positions, and the highest $/WAR overall. While that number has likely calmed since 2012 when the study was done, teams still seem to covet "proven closers" heavily on a $/WAR basis.

Greg Holland

Age: 29

Max FA date: 2016

Total money owed: $20M (more on this below)

3 year fWAR average: 2.5

2015 Steamer: 1.3 fWAR

Holland is projected to make $9.3M in arbitration this year and enter 2015 as the Royals closer if he isn't traded. We all know the arbitration loves saves and makes teams pay heavily for them in salary awards in the process. A player cannot earn less than 80% of their previous salary year-to-year in arbitration and it stands to reason that if Holland continues to be effective in 2015 and rack up saves, he expects to make at a minimum of $7.44M, but he'll likely receive a raise. Jim Johnson settled on $10M in 2014 with Oakland in his third time through the arbitration process after collecting back-to-back 50 save seasons. Holland has recently put together back-to-back 45 and 46 save seasons and could make it three straight years if given the chance next season. It's likely that if Holland did such, he would take his chances in arbitration rather than settle for a $700K raise. I'll assume he does continue his torrid success and will award him $11M in arbitration. Even if you don't agree with that figure, it's likely Holland makes $10M or more dollars if he gets a third time through arbitration.

Wins: 3.5

Dollar Value: $34.3M

Total Money Owed: $20M

Surplus Value: $14.3M

Possible Fit: Astros

Astros Prospects:

Carlos Correa SS: 65/70 OFP

Mark Appel SP: 55/60 OFP

Vince Velasquez SP: 55/60 OFP

Colin Moran 3B: 50 OFP

Rio Ruiz 3B: 50 OFP

Mike Foltynewicz SP/RP: 50 OFP

Lance McCullers SP/RP: 50 OFP

Brett Phillips OF: 45 OFP

Domingo Santana OF: 45 OFP

Teoscar Hernandez OF: 45 OFP

We can mark Correa, Appel, and probably Velasquez off the board. Also, Moran was just recently traded for so he's probably out too. Rio Ruiz was part of the Astros decision to take Carlos Correa over Byron Buxton in 2012. The Astros also have a couple of starters who seem likely to eventually be relievers due to command in Folty and McCullers.

The Orioles traded Eduardo Rodriguez (a top-100 prospect) to the Red Sox in exchange for Andrew Miller, and the Royals should see an better return likely even with prices being higher at the trade deadline. Holland brings an extra two and a half years of control over Miller.

Possible Trade:

Domingo Santana: $12.55M

Santana would fill the Royals RF hole out of Spring Training likely, but would come with growing pains. He always had an issue with strikeouts throughout his professional career but offers plus power and a strong arm in right field with the build/size of an everyday right fielder while likely being average defensively. The power is likely to play down due to the hit tool deficiencies. Santana had a horrid MLB debut, striking out in 14 of his 18 plate appearances. He's been quoted as being a guy who can look lost in his first three plate appearances then hit a massive homer in his fourth.

Like I figured, the system underrated Holland's actual value so I'm going to override it.

More realistic possible trade:

Rio Ruiz: $20.8M

Teoscar Hernandez: $12.55M

Max Stassi: $12.55M

Ruiz is the centerpiece of the trade. With the Astros having both he and Moran, there's slight expend-ability with either and Moran is the college bat with heavy prestige and is the former 6th overall pick (who again the Astros recently traded for). Ruiz has average bat speed, but a very smooth hit tool featuring a deep hand load though, often getting a 60 grade thrown around. His power is slightly above average raw, but in games it's slightly lower. He does well hitting opposite home runs which at times is a forecast of unlocking the full future power potential. He's got the glove to stick at third, but needs to clean up his defense a bit otherwise a move to first base could be in the future which obviously lowers his value.

Hernandez and Stassi are the secondary pieces. Hernandez is one of those average tools across the board kind of guys and doesn't have any standout tools. He could stay in CF if a hole opens up for the Royals two years or so from now.

Stassi has the briefest of MLB experience, and would likely slot as a backup catcher to spell Salvador Perez on off days. The defense is rough and with work could be average at best, but he's a bat first catcher who hits both lefties and righties at a near equal pace.

Wade Davis

Age: 29

Max FA date: 2016

Total money owed: $25M

3 year fWAR average: 4.4 (career total fWAR in relief)

2015 Steamer: 1.0 fWAR

Davis has traversed the path from bad starter, to good reliever, to very good leader, and may be in consideration for a near elite reliever. He doesn't have the full track record of consecutive dominant years like Holland or Craig Kimbrel, but in his career he has a 2.03 FIP in relief. Contract wise Davis carries an extra year of team control with known cost. He has a three consecutive team options for the next three years (including this year) for $7M, $8M, and $10M courtesy of the Rays. In theory, Davis should yield a return near Holland even with the more brief track record and the "lack of saves." There's no doubt though that Davis could (and would if Holland weren't around) slot into the closer position for any team if there were an opening.

Wins: 5

Dollar Value: $49.15M

Total Money Owed: $25M

Surplus Value: $24.15M

Possible Fit: Toronto Blue Jays

Blue Jays Prospects:

Daniel Norris SP: 55/60 OFP

Aaron Sanchez SP/RP: 55/60 OFP

Dalton Pompey OF: 55/60 OFP

Jeff Hoffman SP: 55/60 OFP

Roberto Osuna SP: 50 OFP

Max Pentacost C: 50 OFP

Jairo Labourt: 50 OFP

Miguel Castro SP/RP: 50 OFP

Mitch Nay 3B/1B: 45 OFP

Devon Travis 2B/OF: 45 OFP

DJ Davis OF: 45 OFP

Jeff Hoffman would be a grab swap, but not only did he just have Tommy John surgery, but he and Max Pentacost cannot be traded until after the 2015 draft anyways. Aaron Sanchez found a role in the Blue Jays bullpen this past season but it's unclear just yet if the Jays are going to try him as a starter or reliever long term, and he's not likely to be moved.

Possible Trade:

Mitch Nay: $12.55M

DJ Davis: $12.55M

Nay offers the power profile to play at first or third and offers a very good approach at the plate with the ability to make loud contact. It's not an elite power profile (like Rangers Joey Gallo) but more along the lines of Oakland's Matt Olson. The defensive value on Nay isn't high and he's fringy defensively at third base. First base could be a possible short term outcome for him in which case the power/bat needs to play. He's defensively similar to Royals prospect Cheslor Cuthbert but a better hitter.

The Royals clearly love players with elite level speed and Davis has that. A true 80 grade runner who plays center well. Unfortunately that is all Davis really offers as the bat has holes in it (plate discipline being the major one) and he offers little to no power.

Much like Holland, I'm going to override for Davis.

Realistic possible trade:

Dalton Pompey: $38.5M

Jairo Labourt: $20.8M

Mitch Nay: $12.55M

The caveat to this trade would be that the Jays are currently set to have Michael Saunders, Jose Bautista, and Pompey as their starting OF in 2015. If they trade Pompey, they would need to sign or trade for an outfielder. They have little interest in bringing back Melky Cabrera, and Melky doesn't necessarily want to return to Toronto either.

Pompey is the type of outfielder the Royals also like. Strong defensive profile with a good arm, Pompey can play centerfield well. He also has classic gap to gap power and turns soft hit singles into doubles with his plus speed. There isn't a lot of power in his build or swing, but the average hit tool could lead to a .280 average, 30 doubles, and a handful of home runs. It's not a superstar profile, but it's an average to above average every day outfielder if things fully turn out. Pompey has hit well at basically every level and saw a meteoric rise from A+ to the major leagues this year.

Labourt's build can be profiled as...sturdy. He'll have to watch his size as he gets older (he's 20 years old) but he has the size to hold up on the mound for 200 innings a season. His fastball works in the 93-94 range with two-plane break slider. His third offering is a changeup that with development could offer as a third plus pitch, but is likely to settle as average. He has the makings of a #3 starter at peak.

Kelvin Herrera:

Age: 25

Max FA date: 2018

Total money owed: $15M (more on this below)

3 year fWAR average: 1.25

2015 Steamer: 0.7 fWAR

Herrera offers the longest team control of the three headed monster, but not quite the upside that Holland and Davis has shown. Herrera was extremely good as a middle reliever this year and I think Steamer may be low on him. Steamer sees an increase in strikeouts from 2014 to 2015 by about 1.5 per 9 and a decrease in his walk rate by .5 per 9. Herrera's worst year (2013) came at the hands of a spike in home runs allowed. Steamer projects him to give up 4 home runs next year, the exact amount of home runs he allowed in 2012 where was goot for nearly 2 wins across 84 innings. While he's not likely to match that inning amount in 2015, if he puts up similar rates he should beat his projection slightly.

For Herrera's total money owed I used Matt Swartz's $1.5M projection for 2015 with raises each year of $1.5M (2015) $3M (2016) $4.5M (2017) and $6M (2018) since Herrera is super two eligible. He's amassed all of 3 saves over his career so that should suppress his raises which seem to be the catalyst for them historically.

Wins: 5

Dollar Value: $49.15M

Total Money Owed: $15M

Surplus Value: $34.15M

Possible fit: Washington Nationals

Nationals Prospects:

Lucas Giolito SP: 65/70

AJ Cole SP: 55/60

Steven Souza: 50 OFP

Michael Taylor: 50 OFP

Erick Fedde SP: 50 OFP

Reynaldo Lopez SP: OFP

Jakson Reetz C: 50 OFP

Jake Johansen SP: 50 OFP

Brian Goodwin: 45 OFP

Matt Skole 1B: 45 OFP

Austin Voth SP :45 OFP

Felipe Rivero SP/RP: 45 OFP

Drew Ward OF: 40 OFP

My selection of the Nationals comes down to their future need of bullpen help. While there are some arms on the farm that could help out the pen eventually, there's not much high end talent unless they start converting starters. They just lost Rafael Soriano, and will lose Matt Thornton, Drew Storen, Ross Detwiler, Craig Stammen, Jerry Blevins, and Ross Ohlendorf over the next two years. Herrera would give them immediate help and then a possible closer for the following three years.

Possible Trade:

Michael Taylor: $20.8M

Matt Skole: $12.55M

Taylor is essentially what Bubba Starling could be if everything clicked, but also has a similar track record. It wasn't until his age 22/23 season (first pro season at 19) that things clicked for him. Taylor offers excellent defense in the outfield. Speed, range, and a power arm, he's a potential +5-10 outfielder. Like Starling though, the hit tool could max at a 50 but realistically is more in the 45 range. That's still playable though given his above average raw power and defense/speed. He saw 17 games in the majors in 2014.

Skole is a total throw in. Likely a bench bat, he's a bat first first baseman who can't hit that well. The power is there from the left side of the plate, but the average won't be. Skole isn't a free-swinger though, as he has the plate discipline to work the count deep and talk a walk, but he can be beat by premium velocity at times with his long swing.

Realistic Possible Trade:

I actually like the trade above for this. The Nationals deal from their choice of Stephen Souza or Michael Taylor and while Taylor has the higher upside, Souza has the better chance of sticking in the majors as an everyday regular even with his average tools. The Royals could perhaps ask for a throw in pitcher like Jefrey Rodriguez or ask for a high-upside but high-risk outfielder like Drew Ward who's reminiscent of Starling/Taylor.