Closer Greg Holland, Royals agree to $8.25 million deal

Written by Muleskinner Staff

(KANSAS CITY, Mo. AP) — The Royals and closer Greg Holland avoided salary arbitration Friday when they agreed to an $8.25 million, one-year contract shortly before their hearing, and Kansas City gave free agent right-hander Joe Blanton a minor league deal.
Holland would receive a $100,000 assignment bonus if he is traded — a possibility given the number of pricy power arms in the back of the Royals bullpen.
The 29-year-old right-hander had 46 saves and a 1.44 ERA for the AL champions, striking out 90 and walking 20 in 62 1-3 innings. Holland had seven saves and a 0.82 ERA in the postseason, helping the Royals reach Game 7 of the World Series before losing to San Francisco.
The All-Star made $4,725,000 last year and had asked for $9 million when the sides exchanged proposed arbitration salaries last month. The Royals had offered $6.65 million.
Holland, who is eligible for free agency after the 2016 season, won the inaugural Mariano Rivera Award as the AL’s top relief pitcher last year. He has converted 93 of 98 save chances since the start of the 2013 season, the highest percentage in baseball over that span.
His agreement came one day after the Royals reached a $4.15 million, two-year deal with Kelvin Herrera, who primarily handles the seventh inning. Kansas City also exercised its $7 million option on setup man Wade Davis, which means its shutdown bullpen is slated to return intact.
When combined with a $10 million, two-year deal for reliever Luke Hochevar, who is coming off Tommy John surgery, the Royals have committed more than $21 million to four relief pitchers.
Holland’s agreement Friday leaves only first baseman Eric Hosmer among arbitration-eligible players without a contract. Hosmer made $3.6 million last season, when he hit .270 and earned his second Gold Glove. He asked for $6.7 million and the Royals offered him $4.6 million.
If the Royals cannot reach an agreement with him, it would be the first time since general manager Dayton Moore was hired in 2006 that a player went to arbitration.
The 34-year-old Blanton last pitched in the majors with the Los Angeles Angels in 2013, and has a 4.51 ERA career covering stints with the Phillies, Athletics and Dodgers.
Blanton would receive a $1 million, one-year contract if he’s added to the 40-man roster, and would be eligible for $3 million in performance bonuses, half for innings and half for starts. He would get $150,000 each for 95, 110 and 125 innings; $200,000 apiece for 140, 155, 170 and 185; and $250,000 for 200. The starts bonuses call for %$150,000 each for 16, 18 and 20; $200,000 apiece for 22, 24, 26 and 28; and $250,000 for 30.
The Royals’ rotation appears settled, with Yordano Ventura, Danny Duffy, Jason Vargas, Jeremy Guthrie and Edinson Volquez holding down starting spots. Kansas City has also signed former Braves starter Kris Medlen, who could be ready by mid-season after Tommy John surgery.
Pitchers and catchers are due to report to Royals training camp in Surprise, Arizona, next week with their first workout on Feb. 20. The first full-squad workout is five days later.