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Royals agreed with All-Star closer Greg Holland on $4,675,000 deal to avoid arbitration

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. - All-Star closer Greg Holland agreed Wednesday with the Royals to a one-year contract worth $4,675,000, the final player to reach a deal among Kansas City's players in arbitration.

Holland had asked for $5.2 million in arbitration last month and the Royals had offered $4.1 million. They settled just over the midpoint rather than allow a three-person panel to pick one figure or the other, something that has never happened since general manager Dayton Moore took over the Royals' baseball operations in 2006.

Holland, who went 2-1 with a 1.21 ERA and a franchise-record 47 saves last season, will also earn a $50,000 bonus if he's selected for his second All-Star game.

Moore said Monday that he was confident a deal would get done with Holland, who was eligible for arbitration for the first time, but that he wasn't against going to a hearing.

"We haven't experienced that since we've been here, but it's not by design," Moore said.

Moore also considered it a good sign the Royals had numerous players eligible for arbitration this year. They had previously reached one-year deals with first baseman Eric Hosmer, outfielder Justin Maxwell, catcher Brett Hayes and relief pitchers Tim Collins, Luke Hochevar and Aaron Crow. They also agreed to a deal with Emilio Bonifacio, who has since been waived.

"I think it's a reflection of a player, what they've accomplished at this stage of their career, what kind of leverage they have," Moore said. "Getting a deal prior to a hearing is going to be more challenging going forward as long as we have players excelling and doing well."

Pitchers and catchers are due to report to Surprise, Ariz., on Friday. The Royals' first full-squad workout is Feb. 20 with their exhibition opener against Texas on Feb. 27.

Holland assumed the closer's role in Kansas City late in 2012, and he flourished last season, unleashing an overpowering fastball on an unsuspecting AL Central. He finished third in the majors in saves, and his strikeout rate of 13.84 per nine innings was among the best in baseball.

While he's under club control through arbitration for two more years, Holland said during a recent interview that he would be open to discussing a long-term deal with Kansas City.

"I love the town. I love the fans," he said. "I'd really take a lot of pride in being here when we took the next step, making the playoffs and eventually winning a championship."

Holland should once again serve as the bookend to one of the most dominant bullpens in the American League this season. Most of the key pieces are back from a group that went 33-24 with an AL-best 2.55 ERA and held opponents to a .217 batting average last season.

"Greg is obviously one of the best closers in all of baseball," Crow said. "Whatever we have to do to get the ball to him in the ninth inning, we'll do. Doesn't matter whether you pitch the second inning or the eighth inning. We just want to give Greg an opportunity to get a save."

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