(Photo Credit: mlb.com)
Even if the front office crew of the Dodgers makes a strong play in signing closer Kenley Jansen to an enormous contract over the coming months, free agent reliever Greg Holland could make another fine addition to the Los Angeles bullpen, providing the existing relief corps with some much needed experience and potentially assuming the role of a dependable setup man.
Holland was arguably one of the most dominant relievers in baseball before Tommy John surgery ended his campaign in October of 2015, causing the righty to miss all of last season. Once known for his tremendously nasty slider, Holland was voted to the AL All-Star squad in 2013 and 2014, in addition to garnering votes for the AL Cy Young Award and the American League MVP. Over those two seasons, he saved 93 games, recorded a 1.32 ERA over 129-1/3 innings of work, and fanned 193 batters. Holland was so good that he kept Wade Davis limited to seventh and eighth inning duties during his time with the Royals.
Because Holland is returning from missing the entirety of 2016, he’ll come cheaper and on a shorter-term deal. If he’s healthy and his mechanics are on point, he possibly can provide an impact similar to the more expensive pieces. Right now, a few pundits are guessing that Holland may be seeking a deal in the two-year range approaching $20 million, which could conceivably be a bit on the high side for the Dodgers, especially if the club decides to award Justin Turner and Jansen with huge paydays.
In his first public throwing session since his injury, more than 60 scouts representing 18 teams were on hand to watch the 31-year-old’s showcase, which was held just days after the conclusion of the 2016 World Series.
According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the consensus was that Holland looked healthy. He threw exclusively fastballs and sliders. His fastball was mainly 89-90 mph, well short of his 95.5 mph career average. But as one scout in attendance said: “He had good extension, which suggests he is healthy. This is his fastball in November, 13 months after surgery — it will be something else in spring training. But this is the key now: What does he look like in four months? That is really what you are trying to figure out.”
As far as the Dodgers are concerned, any spending on free agent relievers is most certainly predicated on what happens with Jansen. While Holland has already told reporters that’s he’s willing to accept the role of setup man, he would seemingly fit in well with the Dodgers regardless of what happens with Jansen.
If Jansen decides to sign with another club, the Dodgers will not be left with many options outside of Aroldis Chapman, who has told the media in recent days that he’s seeking a six-year deal for his services. What’s more, there’s probably not a pitcher on the Dodgers existing 40-man roster that could fill the role of closer, much less a reliable eighth inning option. Joe Blanton is on the market searching for an attractive deal and could be had for a reasonable price, while Pedro Baez, Josh Fields and Grant Dayton could eventually settle into a setup role if the Dodgers need to go that route.
Other teams believed to have a high interest in Holland include the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox and Cubs.