People around the league believe that the Washington Nationals will sign Greg Holland. Here is why they would be wise to pass on the veteran closer.
For better or worse, the Washington Nationals have built an excellent rapport with super-agent Scott Boras. Many of the Nats’ best players are represented by Boras, and they seem to be involved with nearly every Boras client on the market.
Due to the exceptionally slow off-season, many of the top free agents remain unsigned with just a few weeks to go until Spring Training. Greg Holland is among the most notable unsigned free agents, and signs point to the Nats being a potential suitor.
In a recent article, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reported that a rival GM believes the Nats will sign Holland. It is impossible to be certain, but this is likely due to the fact that Holland is a Boras client.
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Although Holland is coming off of an all-star season in which he led the National League in saves, the Nats would be wise to pass on him. The veteran closer comes with several red flags, which outweigh the positives.
One of the most obvious red flags is the fact that Holland is only a year removed from undergoing Tommy John surgery. His fantastic Royals tenure came to an abrupt end after tearing his UCL, but he picked up right where he left off in 2017.
While Holland’s overall stats were solid, he had a dreadful second half. He pitched to a horrific 6.38 ERA after the all-star break, which ranked eighth-worst among all qualified relievers. He also struggled in the postseason, allowing two runs in less than an inning.
Several factors likely contributed to Holland’s struggles, but the main one was probably the previous Tommy John surgery. He started off strong, pitching to a 1.62 ERA in the first half, but the post-surgery fatigue eventually caught up to him.
Holland’s age is another potential red flag. He is now 32, which is around when pitchers typically begin to decline. Add in the Tommy John surgery, and his decline could be more steep than usual.
Despite the sluggish market, Holland will seek a lucrative contract. Relievers are getting paid more and more every year, and that trend has been exceptionally evident this off-season. With comparable relievers getting paid as much as $18 million per year, Holland expects to receive an enormous payday.
Holland also declined his $15 million player option for 2018, as well as a $17.4 million qualifying offer, so he presumably expects to be paid more than $17.4 million. Considering his injury history, late-season struggles, and age, he is not worth that much.
The Nats also do not have an obvious need for a reliever. Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson, and Brandon Kintzler form an elite trio in the back-end of the bullpen, with Koda Glover, Sammy Solis, Enny Romero, and Shawn Kelley setting things up in the middle innings. If the Nats are going to add to their already-crowded bullpen, they should sign a long reliever.
All things considered, the Nats would be wise to avoid Holland. However, you never know what the Nats may do when it comes to Boras clients.