The Royals could still use some bullpen depth, with Kelvin Herrera and Joakim Soria the only players on the 40-man roster who made at least 40 relief appearances last year. They are reportedly open to bringing back Greg Holland, although it doesn’t sound like they have been actively engaged in talks with the former All-Star closer.
FanRag reporter Jon Heyman writes today that Holland is receiving great interest, and is seeking a unique two-year deal with an opt-out after one year. The deal would give Holland the security of guaranteed money if he does not recover from his Tommy John surgery as quickly as he hoped, while also giving him the flexibility to become a free agent after one year if he has a big year. Heyman reports Holland is receiving interest from the Dodgers, Nationals, Rockies, Brewers, and Reds.
It should be noted that Heyman has been closely associated with Scott Boras, and is considered a bit of a mouthpiece for the agent, who now represents Greg Holland.
The 31-year old right-hander, who underwent Tommy John surgery in October of 2015, missed the entire 2016 season. The recovery time from the procedure is typically 12-15 months. He had a showcase for teams last fall, but his velocity was underwhelming with his fastball peaking at 91 mph, down significantly from the heat he threw in his prime.
Last fall, I estimated Holland could expect a one-year, $8 million deal, based on the history of past elite relievers coming back from injuries, with perhaps a club or vesting option if he could prove his health. However, with the escalating market for elite relievers, it is possible a team flush with cash could throw around more guaranteed money on Holland. Other closers left on the free agent market include Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo, Neftaliz Feliz, and Jonathan Papelbon.
Holland may prefer to close again, something many of those other clubs could offer. However, if Holland returned to the Royals, it would be unclear if he would resume his closer duties in Kansas City with the emergence of Kelvin Herrera. Holland had a 2.42 ERA with 145 saves in six seasons with the Royals and was a two-time All-Star.