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.

Blame Chad for creating this mess.

Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, “The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds” is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad’s musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine.

You can email Chad at

Join the conversation! 42 Comments

  1. But would he be a good mentor to our younger pitchers? I think we are wasting money and roster spots. We need to let our younger players lead the team.

    • Yes, but you can’t just throw young pitchers in there from the bullpen and expect the team to be successful. Bringing in a guy who has proven himself to be close to elite at one point can only help the bullpen and the young guys to develop more, a la Scott Rolen.

      • I agree if he is not going to command a lot of money. Let’s not forget how many games the bullpen lost last year. I know it sounds crazy but if the Reds get solid contributions from the bullpen maybe the wild card can be a shot. Hey you never know.

        • I completely agree 100%. I do not think he is looking for a ton of money, due to “blowing up his elbow” last season. He really could be a solid benefit to this team.

      • Just because a guy has been around doesn’t mean he’d be a good leader like Rolen.

      • The same Scott Rolen who went nuclear in both St. Louis and Philadelphia? It’s rather impressive when a guy is able to complain his way out of 2 cities….but he was gritty and gutty so I guess that makes it all OK.

        • I find your lack of faith in Veteran Presence disturbing – Darth Grande

        • I recall the younger players at the time naming Rolen as a fine leader by example. Maybe they were just being nice, but it didn’t seem that way.

    • Lorenzen + Iglesias = 2/3 of the way getting back to the Nasty Boys style of baseball. Storen the 3rd part? Should be looking for arms to fill the relief role leasding up to the 7th inning.

  2. I’m on board with this. I feel like giving Lorenzen the chance to start one last time makes the most sense. Too much talent there not to. And you are right Chad. With adding Holland, that gives the Reds a chance to do this. Even if we flip him at the trade deadline, it would be a smart move (in my opinion of course). The Yanks got A LOT for trading Chapman at the expense of 2 months at the deadline.

    • While it gives the Reds a chance to look at Lorenzen as a starter, my question is whether the front office/manager have completely closed the door to that idea. I hope not but I’m wondering.

      • Closed? I think probably? Locked? Perhaps not. Honestly, as I said in the last thread, I don’t think there is much chance that the Reds will try Lorenzen in the rotation, at least in 2017. The seem pretty resigned to using him in the pen. For whatever reason, right or wrong.

  3. This question popped into my mind yesterday when hearing about this story. Assuming that the Reds sign Holland and he and Storen have good seasons along with the rest of the bullpen and the starting rotation and the offense is clicking and we’re surprisingly playing winning ball by the trade deadline. Do the Reds still try and trade Holland and Storen or do they hold onto them to see just how far they can go? I think it would probably be downright stupid to trade them in that scenario. But the reason this interests me is bcuz the Reds are basically looking for one year stopgaps to get us to 2018 when we’ll supposedly be ready to contend again and all these promising kids who just didn’t cut it in the rotation fill up our bullpen. So, what if everything comes together and the entire team is playing well & winning ballgames, including the stopgaps, do the Reds trare the stopgaps or keep them? I know that some of you will say that there’s no way the Reds will be playing winning ball so there’s no reason to be talking about this. But I’m asking you to just open your mind and consider what would you think would happen in this situation.

    • When you have a chance to win you take it. There are no guarantees that the stars will align when you are supposed to contend/win. Votto could hurt his knee. Cueto could pull an oblique.

    • I agree with I-71. If somehow the Reds are contending (seriously contending, not lingering at the fringes of the wild card melee), you go for it. Just because everyone is saying that 2018 will be the year for contending and winning does not mean that will happen.

    • I agree with I-71 and Tom above. If they are actually in the hunt, they pretty much need to go for it. They’d need to be seriously in contention. That means no more than a few games out of the WC and with no more than a couple teams they’d need to jump over. Just being 2-3 games out of the WC may not be enough if there are 5 teams with a better record they’d need to pass along the way.

    • It could happen, the Cubs apparently were a year early to success in 2015. Of course the Cubs were more talented even in 15, but nobody can say when a team will finally click into gear.

    • I like this hypothetical. “Going for it” is all relative, I do not see it as an “either-or” scenario. If the Reds are in contention at the deadline and Holland and/or Storen are pitching well, I think we have the pitching depth to flip one or the other (or both) if the right deal(s) comes along. For example, if Mesoraco/Barnhart are unable to perform, and Baltimore needs relief help, you jump all over a 1-for-1 deal for a guy like Chance Sisco if that is offered. Such a move has the potential to make you better now and moving forward. Likely? Absolutely not, but my point is that you cannot decide one way or the other whether to deal a relief pitcher based only on the fact that the Reds are in contention at the deadline. It has been discussed here ad nauseam that, given the volatility of RPs, if you can get an MLB-ready prospect for a rental, pull the trigger every time.

  4. It is fun as a Reds fan to actually be talking about acquisitions and possible veteran acquisitions and what impact they may have. But the Reds should NOT give Holland a two-year contract with a player opt-out for year two — at least not at the $10M he is supposedly asking for. There is no benefit to a non-contending team in that scenario, other than a veteran bullpen innings eater, and you might as well try a younger guy in that role instead of shelling out $10M. But if his price comes down to the Storen range … why not?

    • It would be nice if it dipped down that low, but I don’t see that happening. If it’s for 6 or 7 million a year, it’s a no brainer at that point. Dude is very talented. The timing of his injury couldn’t have been worse.

    • What if he asked for a deal that was 3 mil the first year and 7 mil the 2nd year. Then he may end up opting out anyway or the Reds trade him at the deadline. I know this probably wouldn’t happen, but this could satisfy both staying near Storen $ and Holland’s asking price. Just an interesting loophole.

  5. When was his TJ? Would he be ready by Opening Day? As we’ve seen with Homer, coming back from TJ is NOT the automatic that the media often lead people to believe. There’s a ton of guys who never make it back.

  6. Holland had a showcase back in November where his velocity was down by a lot. Pre-injury in 2011-2014, he was averaging 96 mph on his fastball. In 2015 his avg. went down to 93.6 and some of his other 2015 stats weren’t as good as the previous years, so you can see something was going wrong for him in 2015.
    In his November showcase, it was reported that Holland was in the 88-90 mph range for his fastball. That’s a big drop for a closer. Hopefully, he has recently thrown for the Reds scouts and his velocity has increased some from that November showcase. If Holland can even just get close to his 2011-2015 form, then he would definitely be an asset, but if he is still throwing 88-90, I’d say pass. If you are only going to get one year from him anyway, and if he starts the year out on the DL, what’s the point then in signing him?

  7. I guess it pretty much depends on what the number is for his salary. His surgery was in early October 2015, whereas Homer’s was in May 2015, so maybe he will be recovered and maybe he won’t. Let’s face it, though; if he’s back to his old self, then he will opt our of the contract. If he’s not any good, then the Reds will have overpaid.

    I am not sure that the upside of a prospect for him at the trading deadline is worth the $X million they would have to pay from April through July.

  8. The Reds Caravan stops were announced Tuesday afternoon. The East Tour (my neck of the woods) has a very good lineup this year. Newly added pitcher Drew Storen, GM Dick Williams, OF Steve Selsky, 2016 2nd round draft pick C Chris Okey, Bigtime Red Eric Davis, Jeff Brantley and I think it was Jim Kelce, and cutie pie Rosie Red. Looking forward to meeting them, shaking hands, and getting a few autographs. Stoked to have Eric Davis on our leg of the tour.
    Then a couple of weeks after that, its time for pitchers and catchers to report. It won’t be long.

  9. My answer would be a resounding “no”, especially if I were GM of the smaller-market Reds. I don’t think there is much good that could come of what is essentially a player-option on the 2nd year. Make that 2nd year a mutual option instead of an opt-out clause that offers no team protection and maybe, if I were Reds GM, I’d think about it. If the Reds were in contention then perhaps I’d be more open to the idea, especially if the deal was front-loaded anyway. As a team that could really only hope to flip him if he does well, I’d take a pass though.

  10. Face it, he wouldn’t have much of a chance to close in Cincinnati either……

    But anything that might make it easier for Lorenzen to be properly evaluated is OK with me.

  11. If it convinces Reds management to try Lorenzen, then I think it is worth it. That could help the rebuild as much as anything.

  12. So, last season ended with Lorenzen and Iglesias as essentially co-closers, two guys who are envisioned as sharing high-leverage situations. And I thought that was how this year would begin, in the name of seeing what they can do over a full season, or perhaps giving them another year to show no injury effects.

    Then we add Drew Storen, who I would think was promised a chance to compete for closer opportunities. Or at the least, that he would be used in high-leverage innings. For the terms of that deal, it sounds like a good move.

    Now we’re going to add another guy to compete for the closer role? What happened to seeing what the young guys can do? And if Lorenzen and Iglesias do get the brunt of the closer opportunities, how does that allow for Storen and/or Holland to demonstrate their return to form and build trade value? Holland would have to be a lot cheaper than what I’m hearing for me to like this suggestion.

    • Maybe the Reds seek to allow Iglesias to remain a multi-inning asset rather than just the 9th inning and the same with Lorenzen except add the chance of becoming the 5th starter. Maybe?

  13. So, if you are running the Reds and have $5M to commit to a flyer deal do you spend it on Holland or on a SS who doesn’t figure in your future and is blocking your potential future SS? Which might bring more at the deadline? Which is the best risk? Such is the business side of things……

    • Why are they mutually exclusive?

      We are adding talent and improving the roster.

      $5.0 mil is budget dust for a good player

      We have spent a lot on players that were not good in the past. If a little more gets you a better player and improves the roster, do it

      • $5M here, $5M there, $5M everywhere for “little” deals that are ??? from the get go (Schumaker, Hannihan et al). That’s the story of the Reds but then they plead poor when they need $8-12M to really do something.

        • Has there been something of a ballpark figure (no pun intended) for what Holland actually wants? I heard $10 million the other day, and we are making references here to $5 million. ,,, I really don’t see the need to go beyond the $3 million or so the Reds gave Storen for such experimental purposes.

          But having said that, when the Reds were thrilling us with ‘Skip’s grit’ and telling us ‘We got Jack for that,’ the Reds had higher payrolls and some expectation of contending. Now, I don’t think it’s a question of having the money to throw at Holland right now as much as the wisdom of it.

        • Ohiojim

          At first I thought you were disagreeing with me, but you are advocating for spending more money. I agree.

          And no hannihans…

          We have enough fliers on our own team in the young players we currently have.

          But a few wise bullpen pieces and this team will be fun for 2017

          I like the first one. $5.0 million more for Zach will not kill the team. And we can afford another reliever.

          Depth at SS is never a bad thing, and Zach is a good teammate. He is not the issue

  14. I already thought this would be a good idea, at least to take a flyer on given the money asked for is fair. However, I forgot the impact it might have on Lorenzen’s rotation chances. Considering all the possible upsides ( prospect of trading healthy Holland at deadline, impact of a good Holland in our bullpen, Lorenzen might start, Iglesias still multi inning arm) against the cons, the pros seem to outweigh the cons. Even if none of these upsides are fulfilled, the possibility of these things happening is worth the chance as long as the money of the deal is right.

    P.S. Even if Holland fails and does not reach his full potential, the year of his injury where he performed at a lesser level he still had a 3.27 FIP. I don’t have any really advanced stats but just based off his Baseball Ref page he seems to have a fairly low floor if 2015 exposed his injury and not just random down season.

  15. Take that money that might go to Holland and sign RHRP Tommy Hunter. Hard throwing reliever that was in the vaunted Baltimore Orioles bullpen twice. He has been traded at the deadline the last 2 years. In ’15 he went from Bal. to CHC and in ’16 went from Cle. back to Baltimore. Big arm with 4 pitches. Very good ground ball rate and doesn’t walk very many batters.

    • I like Hunter. That could work. If you’re going to spend around $10-million on a RP. It’s the whole spending $10-million on a RP this year that I’m not sold on.

      • I think Hunter is just what the Reds bullpen needs. He doesn’t walk many and doesn’t give up hardly any HR’s.
        He was a starter up through the 2012 season and his fastball avg. at 91.5 mph. In 2013 Baltimore converted him into a reliever and his avg. on his fastball jumped up to 96 mph in 2013, 2014 and 2015. It only averaged 95 mph last year.
        Maybe the Reds are seeing the same kind of jump in velocity with Lorenzen. However, I’d still like to see him in the rotation. I’d rather keep Lorenzen in the rotation and move Robert Stephenson to the bullpen and see if that would make his fastball jump back up to the upper 90’s, instead of 92-94.

  16. Lorenzen + Iglesias = 2/3 of the way getting back to the Nasty Boys style of baseball. Storen the 3rd part? Should be looking for arms to fill the relief role leasding up to the 7th inning.

  17. It’s frustrating–if it’s true–that who we sign might have a bearing on whether Lorenzen gets an opportunity to start. If Lorenzen (or Iglesias) is physically capable of starting, then it would be a crime to put him in the bullpen in order to strengthen the bullpen. I’ll take a bullpen of Hoover, Ondrusek, and Micah Owings in 2017 if we develop 5 or more strong starting pitchers this season.

Comments are closed.

About Chad Dotson

Blame Chad for creating this mess. Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, "The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds" is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad's musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine. You can email Chad at


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