2016 statistics: Did not play, recovering from Tommy John surgery
2015 statistics: 44.2 IP, 32 saves, 3.83 ERA, 3.27 FIP, 9.9 K/9, 5.2 BB/9
Age on Opening Day 2017: 31
Position: Right-handed closer/relief pitcher
A couple years back when the Royals made their first run to the World Series, their main strength that everyone was talking about was their bullpen. If they won the World Series in 2014, that bullpen would have been one of the main reasons why. Unfortunately Madison Bumgarner had his own ideas, but the Royals bullpen was one of the most dominant ones in MLB postseason history. Greg Holland was the closer on that lauded Royals bullpen, and is now a free agent. The Yankees should absolutely take a chance on him.
He missed the entire 2016 season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery so signing Holland wouldn’t come without risk. However, it’s also not often that someone with his talent comes around on the free agent market that can potentially be acquired for less than his normal market value. This is possibly the best offseason to be a free agent reliever. After everyone saw how Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman were able to lead their teams through the postseason, combined with the lack of starting pitching, elite relievers are a hot commodity right now.
There’s likely to be a bidding war for Chapman, and once that domino falls, every team that lost out on him will go after Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon. After that though? Holland could be the best option out there. What’s even better is that according to his agent, Scott Boras, he is reportedly okay with taking a non-closer role.
“Whatever role they have,” Boras said, speaking to reporters at the GM meetings at the Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa. “I think everybody is understanding what benefit (relievers) play in a team’s goal to win a championship.”
If the Yankees want to truly build a dominant bullpen again, signing Greg Holland is a necessary risk. The good thing is, because his 2015 campaign wasn’t as dominant (93 ERA-, 82 FIP-) as his previous campaigns (30 ERA-, 35 FIP- and 37 ERA-, 49 FIP- in 2013 and 2014 respectively), he still served as a reliable closer for the Royals up until September when he went down with his elbow injury. Signing Holland wouldn’t even stop them from still pursuing one of the “big three” free agent relievers this offseason.
Instead of putting all their eggs in one basket–like Chapman, for example–the Yankees could sign Melancon and Holland and still have an extremely dominant bullpen. They already have Dellin Betances, and Tyler Clippard was more than reliable as Betances’ setup man in the last two months of the season. But imagine a scenario where all four of these guys were in the same bullpen?
The Yankees rotation is in a volatile state right now. Behind Masahiro Tanaka and maybe CC Sabathia, it’s a miracle if any of the pitchers can consistently give the Yankees five innings, let alone six or seven. Having this kind of elite bullpen depth could make Joe Girardi’s job a lot easier.
With Holland coming off a lost year and being on the wrong side of 30, he could be had for a lot cheaper and for less years than he would normally require just because of the uncertainty surrounding him. Any team that does sign him will be getting the very definition of a low-risk/high-reward player, and the Yankees would be wise to do all they can to be that team. Plus, imagine all the Holland Tunnel jokes that could be made!
What do you think? Should the Yankees go after Holland or focus on less risky options?
*Season statistics provided courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs