Former Royals closer Greg Holland, who missed the 2016 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery that he underwent last October, has thrown off a mound three to four times and is set to host a showcase for interested teams within the next week, agent Scott Boras tells Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Per Boras, Holland’s velocity is currently in the low 90s, and the showcase will take place either at Boras’ sports facility in Florida or near Holland’s North Carolina home.
Holland, 30, was one of the game’s elite relievers prior to tearing his ulnar collateral ligament and requiring surgery. From 2011-14, he amassed 113 saves for the Royals while recording a minuscule 1.86 ERA with a 358-to-91 K/BB ratio in 256 1/3 innings (12.6 K/9, 3.2 BB/9). Adding in his postseason work in 2015 tacks on another 11 innings of one-run ball with 15 strikeouts against five walks.
However, Holland’s numbers took a turn for the worse in 2015, as he worked to a solid-but-unspectacular 3.83 ERA with 9.9 K/9 against 5.2 BB/9. His average fastball, which once sat a tick over 96 mph, was instead a more pedestrian 93.6 mph. Clearly, something was wrong with Holland, and manager Ned Yost made the shocking revelation at the time his ligament tear was reported that it appeared Holland actually tore his UCL late in the 2014 season, meaning he pitched the entire 2014 postseason and the entire 2015 campaign with a torn UCL. The extent of the tear was likely minimal in nature at first, but by the end of that ’15 season, it was reported to be a “significant” tear — hardly a surprise after more than a year of pitching through the injury.
Back to the present day, Boras tells Sherman that his client is “back at it full steam” and suggested that his client’s market will be “interesting” in light of the value that is being placed on premium bullpen arms in the postseason. While Holland comes with considerably less certainty than the free-agent market’s top relief arms — Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon — the upside of signing him is tantalizing, especially considering the fact that he’ll 17 months removed from Tommy John surgery when Spring Training opens.
Holland has already been linked to the Royals recently, but teams in search of top-tier bullpen arms figure to certainly check in with Boras — especially those that miss out on the aforementioned free agents. Teams that seem likely to pursue high-end relief arms this winter include the Giants, Cubs, Dodgers, Yankees and Nationals, though Holland’s price point should be reasonable enough that even clubs that won’t go anywhere near the big three relievers at their expected asking prices could view Holland as an opportunity to add a comparable talent at a reduced rate.