Greg Holland missed all of the 2016 season after having Tommy John surgery. From 2011-2014 he dominated for the Kansas City Royals, racking up 113 saves with a 1.86 ERA. In his 256.1 innings he had 91 walks (11 intentional) and 358 strikeouts. In 2015 he stepped back some as his control faded. That’s likely due to the elbow injury that wasn’t yet diagnosed (it’s usually one of the first signs).

Jon Heyman is reporting that the Reds are one of the teams interested in Holland, who is looking at signing an interesting deal that would seem to be a great fit for a team like the Reds.

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.

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.

When looking at his career, we know that 2015 was the down year and the one in which he was ultimately injured. His velocity that season was down 2 full MPH versus the previous three seasons. Throughout his career he, like most pitchers, started lower and built up velocity as the season went along. That was a trend every year. That is, until September of 2014. His velocity dropped off nearly 2 MPH from August to September. From that point forward, he kept trending downward until August of 2015 when he saw an uptick of about a MPH. Then in September of 2015 he lost nearly 4 MPH before being shut down. Looking at all of the velocity data, it’s probably likely that he had some slight tearing starting in late 2014, but saw the big tear happen in late 2015 that led to the known injury and surgery.

If Greg Holland can return to something even remotely close to the guy he was before he was injured, he’s going to be one of the best relievers in the game. He misses bats at an elite level and generally, he’s had low walk rates. There’s some obvious risk here – coming off of an injury. He held a workout for scouts in early November. That was 12 months after his surgery. At that time Holland was only throwing 88-91 MPH. While we don’t know where he’s at today, teams probably have a better feel for that.

Without more velocity, it’s hard to believe Holland can return to an elite level pitcher. Still, it’s a risk worth taking if the price is right. If you can get him at $5-6M, with appearance incentives to add up for another $2M (say he gets all of that for 50 appearances) that’s certainly something I would be looking at. I wouldn’t worry about the second year too much. If he’s good, you trade him at the deadline – save some money and get back quality players (or player). If he’s not good, he may not pitch in 50 games and the price tag isn’t going to kill you.

43 Responses

  1. RFM

    A big gamble on Holland would, in my opinion, represent a change for the Reds, who are ordinarily pretty risk-adverse. He apparently has several suitors, and probably has plenty of options, so he might not come as cheap as we hope. But, he’s the kinda guy who could make the Reds look brilliant if the deal works out well, and idiotic if it doesn’t.

    Supposedly he’s looking for 2 years with an opt-out, so he gets guaranteed money if he stinks and can cash in if he does well… also incentivizing a trade, as if he’s good enough to carry trade value he’s sure to opt-out.

    • Gaffer

      I guess it depends on what you define as risk.

      Reds sign mediocre closer F. Cordero to record deal.
      Reds sign a player to 10 year extention when 2 years from free agency.
      Reds sign multiple Cuban free agents to big deals.
      Reds sign 100 million contract to third best pitcher.

      • Hingle McCringleberry

        Agree with everything except cordero. Mediocre? 329 saves, 150 with the reds. Smh.

      • Gaffer

        Because saves are such a useful stat.

        I watched those Cordero games and he was always putting tons of guys on. You get a save for giving up 2 runs when you are up 3.

      • Doug Gray

        Save percentage is rather useful though – there isn’t someone to pitch AFTER the save. The game is over. While I think the save stat kind of sucks, and that it’s used to dictate usage for some insane reason – converting the save is all that matters. It’s the last out of the game – doing it sexier than someone else doesn’t matter.

      • MuddyCleats

        Right, Reds wouldn’t pull the trigger on Cozart deal due to injury “concerns” of Mariners Pitcher, but somehow it’s OK to sign a Pitcher who we “KNOW” had an arm problems?

  2. CP

    If the price is right absolutely! I would love to see the FO go after one more arm that can either supplement the bullpen and/or provide depth and competition for the rotation.

  3. HavaKlu

    Not in favor of signing Holland. We already have committed to a re-tread closer in Storen. I thought we were rebuilding! If having Cozart is blocking Peraza, then Holland would be blocking Iglesias or Lorenzen. If rebuilding is the objective, then give Iglesias the opportunity to close which apparently he would prefer.

    • Doug Gray

      You can rebuild by trading closers/relievers, too. Iglesias and Lorenzen aren’t going to be blocked from anything except getting saves. Things they weren’t likely to get anyways given that Bryan Price has said he envisions them both being multi-inning guys.

      There’s some risk with a Storen/Holland plan, for sure. But there’s plenty of reward available too. Both could perform, which helps you win ballgames now, and you could flip both at the deadline for players to continue to improve your teams future.

      • Gaffer

        I agree but don’t you think that Cuban would be better, when he is available.

      • Doug Gray

        Sure, but there’s no guarantee that he will be available for the Reds.

  4. sultanofswaff

    Why not try to win while rebuilding? This is a low cost move that would benefit both parties. You could possibly get an elite 4 headed bullpen monster or you move Lorenzen to the rotation and slide one of the young guns back there and still be in good shape. Point is, the organization would get to make choices from a position of strength rather than need. Dusty-proof the lineup!

    If Homer and Mez can return to form, this team would have the makings of a wild card contender.

    • Gaffer

      Winning while rebuilding reduces draft position which is essential to the rebuilding.

      • Bill

        Winning while rebuilding puts more fans in the stands generating more revenue that translates to additional payroll to refine the improving team.

      • Colt Holt

        Look at the Astros, Royals, and Cubs in recent years to see that sometimes your team surprises.

        As for team makeup (and whether this team could get that far), does this team really compare that poorly to some of the recent Oriole teams if you wind up putting together an elite bullpen with an already strong offense? The starting five as it is can’t be much worse than some of the rotations the Orioles have trotted out recently. One of Stephenson, Reed, or Garrett clicks and becomes a solid number 2, the other four meet expectations and stay healthy and this team could see the wild card. Adding experienced arms to the back of the bullpen with serious helium in Iglesias and Lorenzen and that pen could be tough.

  5. Love the reds

    I would be in favor of Holland joyning the reds bullpen. Hope the price is right. Doug do you know anything about the two players the reds signed yesterday to minor league deals? Pitcher Deunte heath, and catcher Adrian Nieto.

  6. Michael Davis

    At first thought, I was like absolutely, but if they spent the money on the aforementioned Luis Robert, it would make far more sense. Though I don’t believe the Reds will think that way. Frustrating team to root for!

  7. Norwood Nate

    It kind of seems superfluous at this point. Iglesias, Lorenzen, Storen, Cingrani, Wood, and Diaz all seem to be set to start the year in the bullpen. Add in a long man and the bullpen seems set. Could it be improved? Absolutely. Is Holland the right fit? I’m not so sure, especially as he’s also a righty. Sure a back to form Holland is better than most of those, if not all, but at the same time you would negate some of Storen’s potential trade value by bringing in Holland. The type of money he’s looking for, and the set up of the contract would both make me want to pass.

    • WVRon

      I don’t see any way to justify letting Wood or Diaz stand in the way of adding Holland.

  8. Krozley

    It seems to me the reason to sign him would be to hope that he pitches like the old Greg Holland and you trade him at the deadline for a couple top 150 prospects (a little less than what the Yankees got for Chapman) after paying him say $5 million. That probably won’t happen, so I say just spend the $5 million toward international prospects like Robert and not take the risk of another injury/poor performance and getting nothing.

    • Doug Gray

      Robert may never be available, and the Yankees landed a Top 25 prospect, plus, for Chapman.

      • Fish

        The reds landed garbage for more control of Chapman. Not exactly confident in this front offices ability to win trades.

      • Doug Gray

        The owners hands are all over that deal – it was a “get rid of him now” PR move for the ages. It was NEVER about maximizing the return. It was always about getting him out of the organization for PR reasons.

  9. Bradkon21

    I am for signing Holland.

    Would have been curious to see what Rays would ask Reds for in return of Drew Smyly. Seems like a low price tag Mariners got him for.

    • Gaffer

      We have Finnegan and Reed, lefties with questionable futures. What would Smylie add?

      • Bradkon21

        Proven major league starter. Lowered value. Cheap, 2 years of control. Ability to move Disco or Straily.

        What would be a comparable package? Jose Lopez, Phil Ervin?

  10. Bill

    My concern with Robert is that he has to be cleared by MLB and signed in just over five months. I don’t know how realistic that is.

    Signing players that can be flipped for additional talent is another great plan. If the price is right and medical reports check out on Holland, I would have no problem with the Reds pursuing this approach.

  11. Champ Summers

    Where did it say if we sign Holland we can’t take a run at Robert? Is it surly an either or situation?

    I am all for signing and flipping. It’s a risk but you have to gamble big now and then to get a big payoff.

    • Jasonp

      Greg Holland career ERA is 2.4. If he is anywhere near that by the trade deadline you could get something good for him.

      At one point Price had said who ever didn’t make it at the 5th starter could be sent to the bullpen. Adding one more reliever hopefully will make it so that doesn’t happen based on spring training stats. Might eventually happen to one of our young starters but at least they would get another chance to be a starter for part of a season.

  12. Simon Cowell

    The Reds should sign him and flip him. It makes zero sense why the Reds don’t use this as a strategy to refill their farm system.
    Only real reason is that the Reds are a poorly run organization and don’t know how to play with the big boys.

  13. Redsvol

    I would definitely be in favor if the price is heavily based on incentives. If a pitcher wants an opt-out, then he should also have to reach incentives to lower the team’s risk of losing him without him ever being fully healthy in year 1. Signing Holland also gives our young guys a chance to mature into back-end bullpen pieces without having to be a closer.

    However, I think its more likely that someone like the Red Sox, Mets, or Cardinal swoop in and sign him before he agrees to a deal with the Reds.

  14. Michael Green

    Holland has post season experience and that’s a plus. He’s been part of a successful rebuild. My concern is the competition from other interested teams. Good for the player but it could scare off Cinci.

  15. Hoyce

    Sign holland: 2 years -14M. 1st year 5M. Mutual option for 2nd year at 9M.
    If he’s good- that’ll be fair to the team that he hopefully gets flipped to
    If he’s not, don’t pick up the option.
    Meanwhile, holland makes substantial $.

  16. Fish

    My concern with Holland is the structure of deal he wants. 2 years with an opt out means if he’s terrible, you’re eating that salary for 2 years. The one year opt out removes any upside value. Also, let’s say him and storen both return 100% to best in career form. Only one of them is getting saves and it would be hard to showcase both for trades in the same season when the reds won’t be good. If he wants a straight one year deal that’s fine, but I wouldn’t do 2 with opt out after 1.

  17. Cguy

    It’s been 9 days since the Reds signed Storen & lost Jenkins, yet Jenkins still listed on 40 man & no sign of Storen. Is this typical? How often does somebody update the roster on the Reds site?

    • Doug Gray

      I doubt there’s an actual person that handles the roster stuff. It’s probably automated with a database. Which seems to be having problems for over a month now.

  18. Drake

    I would love if the front office went out and grabbed Holland. It’s the kind of moves that they should be making. However, I do have one concern. With the Reds signing Storen, is it known that he will be the closer? Sure, we all assume that is the case, but I wonder if that has been communicated to him. I bring that up because I would hate to bring in Holland to close, and Storen becomes upset the way he did when the Nationals brought in Papelbon. Storen was a successful closer with the Nationals before that, and seemed to fall apart once the Nationals brought in competition. Now, I am not advocating that Storen needs to be kept happy at all costs, but it does make me wonder if he would implode with added competition. After watched him pitch for the Mariners, his fastball velocity was up, and his slider was far improved from his slider in Toronto. His K/9 and BB/9 numbers remained strong, even in Toronto, and he improved considerately in Seattle. I’m mildly optimistic for Storen, and I hope his mind is cleared of his demotion. I think a Joe Smith, Joe Blanton, or David Hernandez would be a better fit.