After reportedly agreeing to terms over the weekend, the Nationals have officially struck a deal with veteran reliever Greg Holland. Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post tweeted the news, which has now been announced by the team.
Holland will head straight onto the Nats’ MLB roster, the team announced. Righty Jimmy Cordero was optioned back to Triple-A to create space.
In a sense, this represents a culmination of years of dalliances between Holland and the Nationals. Though the sides did not line up during either of his trips onto the open market, the Scott Boras client obviously held appeal all along to the D.C. organization.
Of course, the premise is quite a bit different now than it was in the prior two winters. Holland was recently cut loose by the Cardinals after a rough stint with the team. The St. Louis organization will remain responsible for the remainder of his $14MM annual salary, less a pro-rated portion of the league minimum.
This move represents the latest twist in the Nats’ recent bullpen saga. Even as the club decided not to blow things up at the deadline, it moved veteran reliever Brandon Kintzler. Days later, the team designated and dealt Shawn Kelley after he slammed his glove and stared into the team’s dugout in the midst of a mop-up outing.
In parting with those two hurlers and adding Holland, the Nationals are certainly taking some chances while saving salary. It’s arguable, at best, whether there’s greater upside in the current mix; the floor, surely, is lower.
Holland has a history of excellence and was a quality performer for much of the 2017 season. But he’ll now rejoin former ’pen mate Kelvin Herrera — a mid-season acquisition in Washington — with considerably less fanfare than he would have at most points in the past.
After all, through 25 frames this year, Holland has coughed up exactly as many earned runs and walks as he has recorded strikeouts, with 22 of each. That startling fact is backed by some other problems. Holland has lost another mile per hour on his fastball, even against his diminished post-Tommy John levels. And he’s generating swinging strikes at an 11.8% rate that’s the lowest since his first, brief taste of the majors in 2010.
If there’s cause for optimism, it lies in Holland’s relatively improved work since he took some time off in the middle of the season. He was tuned up for five earned runs in a July 8th appearance against the Giants, but otherwise has thrown 11 innings over which he allowed three earned runs with an 11:5 K/BB ratio since his return in mid-June.