Royals right-hander Greg Holland will undergo Tommy John surgery to repair what was said last week to be a “significant” tear in his right ulnar collateral ligament, reports MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan (Twitter link).
The surgery may very well bring Holland’s Royals career to an end. The former closer eligible for arbitration for the final time this offseason and would be due a raise on this year’s $8.25MM salary. As he won’t pitch for most, if not all of the 2016 season, the Royals will most likely non-tender him, making him a free agent. Holland, of course, could sign some form of backloaded, two-year extension in the interim or return to the club on a restructured deal following his non-tender, but if it reaches that point, Kansas City will have to compete with the other 29 clubs to see which is willing to present him and newly hired agent Scott Boras with the best opportunity.
Manager Ned Yost said at the time his injury became public knowledge last week that he believes the damage in Holland’s elbow to date all the way back to last August. The Royals are said to have asked Holland to get the elbow checked out on multiple occasions this season, but Holland’s preference was always to pitch through the discomfort. Ultimately, though, his September struggles became too significant, and with his fastball sitting in the high 80s (as opposed to its typical residence in the mid 90s), Holland underwent an MRI, bringing him to this outcome.
If the timeline of the injury is accurate, then Holland’s postseason efforts and first half of the 2015 season are nothing short of incredible. He pitched 11 innings of one-run ball in last year’s postseason, notching a 15-to-5 K/BB ratio in that time. In the first half of the 2015 season, Holland recorded a 2.70 ERA with 31 strikeouts (against an uncharacteristic and, in hindsight, ominous 15 walks) in 26 2/3 innings.
To this point in his career, the 29-year-old has a 2.42 ERA with 12.1 K/9, 3.5 BB/9 and 145 saves in 319 2/3 innings. All of those innings came as a member of the Royals, who selected Holland in the 10th round of the 2007 draft.