It’s coming from Jon Heyman, so take this for what it’s worth, but:
Free agent closer Greg Holland is seeking an unusual two-year deal with a one-year opt-out that could allow him to re-test a free agent market that showed a strong affinity for closers this winter.
Holland’s interest in such a deal should be no surprise after three of the biggest stars of this year’s class were Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon.
Holland is drawing interest from the Rays, Dodgers, Nationals, Rockies, Brewers, Reds and others. The Cubs met with him before acquiring Holland’s Royals replacement, Wade Davis. The Royals have shown some interest, as well, as they are looking to beef up their vaunted pen, though they may not be too likely at the moment.
Holland, a 31-year-old right-handed reliever, missed all of 2016 following Tommy John surgery. Before that, he had a pretty good five year run as an effective reliever for Kansas City. Then he blew out his elbow.
He certainly fits the profile of a relief pitcher that the Reds are trying to target: a guy who has had success in the past, but might scare off some teams because of his recent health issues. As GM Dick Williams said, when discussing recent signee Drew Storen:
It’s not typical you can find a guy with a track record like that available to a team like us. So, there’s going to be something there that scared teams off a little bit. … There are no risk-free signings at this end of the spectrum.
That said, Holland was an elite closer before the injury, and there are some teams with deep pockets who are reported to be interested in his services. But he’s the type of guy that makes a lot of sense for the Reds, even if Holland is looking for a two-year deal, as has been reported. And, as Doug Gray notes, the Reds might actually have something important that they can offer Holland: a chance to close out games.
The Reds can offer something many teams probably can’t: The chance to close. Coming off of surgery, other teams may be less than willing to offer that chance. If he goes out and shows he’s capable, others may be more willing. Of course, coming off of surgery, he may not be able to close as often as some other guys. With the Reds also having Drew Storen, there could be some wiggle room in there to get both guys save chances – especially early in the year as Holland is eased back into the relief role.
Seems to me like a good gamble for the Reds to take, if they can convince Holland to come here. Best case scenario, he returns to form and the Reds can flip him for someone who will be a member of the next good Reds team. (Well, the actual best case scenario is that Holland is the closer for the 2017 World Series champion Cincinnati Reds.) Worst case scenario is that he’s bad and the Reds have wasted some money on him for a couple of years. It’s not likely to be a tremendous amount of money, but I realize that I normally wouldn’t advocate spending big dollars on the bullpen for a rebuilding team like Cincinnati. Holland appears to be a good risk. I’ve never been wrong before, but I guess it’s possible that I’m off-target here.
The other part of the equation in my mind is that there’s the added benefit that, if the Reds can add more reliable relievers to the bullpen, they might be more inclined to do the smart thing and give Michael Lorenzen (or Raisel Iglesias) a shot at sticking in the starting rotation. So the Reds get an MUCH-improved bullpen for 2017, plus (possibly) Lorenzen as a starter?
Not exactly the stuff of dreams, but it’s a start.