Kansas City Royals relief pitcher Greg Holland talks to fans during baseball practice Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015, in Kansas City, Mo. The Royals face the winner of tonight's AL wildcard game Thursday in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Charlie Riedel
December 02, 2015

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) The World Series champion Kansas City Royals declined to offer Greg Holland a 2016 contract Wednesday, making the former All-Star closer a free agent for the first time as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.

Kansas City also traded backup catcher Francisco Pena to the Baltimore Orioles for cash. Earlier in the day, the Royals designated Pena for assignment when they traded minor league infielder Jose Martinez to St. Louis for reserve catcher Tony Cruz. They also decided not to offer a contract to infielder Orlando Calixte, allowing him to become a free agent.

Holland is not expected to pitch next year after undergoing reconstructive elbow surgery late in the season, causing him to miss the Royals' run to the title. But prior to his injury, he had established himself as one of the most dominant closers in the game, posting a 1.21 ERA two years ago and a 1.44 ERA last season, when he earned his second straight All-Star nod.

Holland pitched through elbow trouble part of last season, and had a 3.83 ERA with 32 saves before he was shut down. He ultimately had Tommy John surgery in October.

The Royals moved on from Holland in part because Wade Davis was even better as the closer.

The first-time All-Star went 8-1 with a 0.94 ERA and 17 saves this season. He got the final out against the New York Mets to give the Royals their first World Series championship since 1985.

Kansas City exercised a $10 million option on Davis for next season.

The 26-year-old Pena appeared in eight games for Kansas City this past season, backing up All-Star catcher Salvador Perez. But with the Royals' trade for Cruz and the fact that Drew Butera is still under club control, the Royals decided to send Pena to Baltimore.

The 29-year-old Cruz hit .204 with two homers and 11 RBIs in 69 games for the Cardinals last season. He can also play third base.

Martinez, 19, spent most of last season at rookie-level Burlington, hitting .243 with four doubles, a homer and 24 RBIs in 57 games.

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