Cubs Looking Beyond Aroldis Chapman, Reportedly Have Interest in Free Agent Reliever Greg Holland

According to a report at MLBTradeRumors.com, the Chicago Cubs may have interest in signing reliever Greg Holland.

Holland was a reliever in an extremely talented and successful Kansas City Royals bullpen from 2010 through 2015. During that span he was inserted as a closer beginning in 2011 and took over full-time closing duties from 2013 through 2015. Over that time he recorded 125 saves and was one of the most dominant closers in the game during those years.

Late in the 2015 season, Holland sustained an injury to his arm that ended his season and led to Tommy John surgery. That caused him to miss the entire 2016 season as well. On Monday, November 7, Holland, working through agent Scott Boras, held a showcase for teams where he threw for around 18 teams (MLBTradeRumors.com). As you’d expect, his velocity was down, throwing in the low 90’s compared to the upper 90’s where he’d been consistently prior to the injury.

Holland will be 31 entering the 2017 season and so, conceptually, he has several potentially good years in front of him. There’s always a question around how a player bounces back from Tommy John surgery, including potential concerns about velocity and endurance to withstand the rigors of an entire major league season.

Compared to the more prominent and big-time free agent closers that are available this off-season – Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon – Holland will be available for a substantial amount less to a club that’s willing to take a risk on him. Of course, in a market where rumors are swirling that the big three free agent salaries may approach $100 million, taking a risk on someone like Holland may be the way to go.

The downside is that the Cubs aren’t the only team thinking that way and that, alone, may be enough to cause the team that ultimately ends up signing Holland finding themselves overpaying for him. That’s something I don’t expect the Cubs to do, particularly for a guy whose velocity was starting to trend downward even before his injury in 2015. BleacherNation.com has an interesting breakdown on his velocity here.

While I believe that Holland is an interesting prospect with some upside potential, I don’t expect the Cubs to go after him very hard. In fact, because the market for relievers is so incredibly high right now, I won’t be surprised to see the Cubs not sign any free agent closers this off-season. Prepare yourself for that.

It’s quite possible the Cubs end up moving Carl Edwards, Jr. into the closer role. I’ve always thought he’d make a great closer and he was used in late inning, short relief a couple of times towards the end of the season, including game 7 of the World Series. Clearly Joe has confidence putting Edwards in a game when there’s a high-leverage situation.

What I don’t expect, and quite frankly would be surprised to see, is for Joe to put Hector Rondon back into a closer role. It’s possible that he closes some games and shares responsibility with Edwards but I just don’t expect to see Rondon stay in that role. So, while it may be tempting to hold out hope that the Cubs will either sign one of the big three or get a good deal on Holland, I won’t be surprised, and mostly expect,┬áto see them stand pat and work something out with the players they currently have on the roster in order address their closer needs.

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