The front office of the Washington Nationals are interested in what Greg Holland can do coming off Tommy John surgery. Along with others, they will scout an upcoming workout.
Holland, who will 31 next season, underwent Tommy John surgery at the end of the 2015 season after a great run with the Kansas City Royals as their closer. He missed all of 2016 recuperating and recently returned to the mound for working out his arm.
A client of agent Scott Boras, Holland will either work out near Holland’s home in North Carolina or Boras’ facility near Miami.
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Washington no longer has a closer under contract. Mark Melancon, who pitched well the second half of the regular season and playoffs, is a free agent for next year. Although it is hoped Melancon will return, the Nationals are prudent to see what Holland can deliver.
Before his injury, Holland was dominant. A huge part of the Royals 2014 American League Championship team, he posted a 1.44 ERA in 62.1 innings for Kansas City. With 46 saves and 90 strikeouts, he earned two All-Star trips, top 10 in the AL Cy Young vote and MVP consideration.
Holland earned the job in 2013, locking down 47 saves in 68 games with an ERA of 1.21. In 67 frames, he whiffed 103 while posting a WHIP of 0.866. Even in his injury-plagued 2015, he notched 32 saves before his ERA jumped to 3.83. As the Royals were gunning for a second consecutive AL crown, he lost his slot to Wade Davis and missed the World Series run in full.
The good news for Washington is, by the time next season rolls around, he will be 18 months post-surgery. Either as a setup man or closer, the upside is huge. In 319.2 innings, Holland has 430 strikeouts, a ratio of 12.1 K/9 over his career.
Now the bad. If he has a good workout, there will be many teams in need of a closer. Holland made $8.25 million in 2015 and will likely not sign for less if he is healthy. With Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen and Melancon available to the highest bidder in a poor overall free agent class, securing Holland will be steep.
One season removed from surgery, if he can close, would Holland carry the heavy postseason load we saw from Chapman, Jansen and Cleveland’s Andrew Miller? After their success, the role of an old-fashioned fireman come October may come back again. Washington will need someone who can go multiple innings in the playoffs, can Holland do it?
The Nationals have a good relationship with Boras. The two sides came to an agreement with Stephen Strasburg before the starter reached free agency. You know they are in contact over Bryce Harper’s future. General Manager Mike Rizzo knows how to negotiate if the Nats like what they see.
It is a gamble, but so is any free agent, healthy or not.