The KC Royals are interested in bringing back recovering former closer Greg Holland in August, according to baseball insider Jon Heyman at Today’s Knuckleball.
[Correction: readers correctly pointed out that Heyman said Holland could be throwing from a mound as early as August, while suggesting he would wait until he was throwing to sign. Since Holland had surgery Oct. 2, there is little to no chance that he will pitch this season.]
However, the Kansas City Royals aren’t the only team interested in Holland’s services. The Atlanta Braves are also in the bidding for the formerly dominant closer who is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery last September. Holland won the Mariano Rivera award as the AL’s best reliever for his 46 save, 1.44 ERA season in 2014.
That award winning season followed an even better 2013 season in which Holland posted a 1.21 ERA with 47 saves. In short, Holland has been one of the most dominant closers in the game ever since taking over the role for the Royals in 2012 after dealing Jonathan Broxton to the Reds at the trading deadline.
Holland is in the final year of salary arbitration for the KC Royals and will be eligible to become a free agent in 2017. Signing Holland to finish out 2016 for the Braves would make little sense, given that 16-37 Atlanta is unlikely to be playing meaningful games come August. A Braves deal would almost certainly include a contract for 2017.
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On the other hand, the Kansas City Royals could very well use a bullpen boost for the final two months of the season plus a possible playoff run. Joakim Soria‘s blown save on Thursday night highlights the benefit of reuniting the original HDH trio for the playoffs. Ned Yost doesn’t want to see another blown save like Thursday night come crunch time in October.
The fact is, you’d have to think that Holland could have found some team to pay him to rehab plus a contract for the stretch run in 2016 and an agreement for 2017. If Holland were interested in sure money in his pocket, he’d have already cut such a deal. That Greg Holland is still unsigned tells me that he really would like to come back for another playoff run with his buddies in Kansas City this season.
And, really, who can blame him?
The 30-year-old Holland has already made $13.9 million in the game despite still being under team control. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where he won’t land a contract for 2017 as long as he can chuck the ball in the general direction of home plate given his stellar career 2.42 ERA paired with 145 career saves and a 12.1 K/9 combined with the 80% recovery rate from Tommy John surgery.
Given that relatively secure promise of a job in 2017, why not make sure you get at least one more run at a championship with the greatest late-inning squad in playoff history? Bringing back Greg Holland could make the 2016 KC Royals bullpen the best back-end in baseball history with the full HDH trio plus Luke Hochevar and Joakim Soria in sixth inning roles.
Yost would have the luxury of completely avoiding the third time through the order penalty in any tight game.