Greg Holland and the Free Agency Void

This was a crazy off-season for free agent players; many guys were expecting to cash in for the first time in their careers. Unfortunately for them, the free agent market never materialized like they hoped. Coming into spring training, there was still 67% of players unsigned. The result was many players signing short term deals for less money than projected; or in the case of Greg Holland, less than initially offered.

The Cardinals officially signed Holland on March 31st to a 1 year, $14M deal. This is a steal for the Cardinals, who had a glaring hole at the back of the bullpen and was linked to Holland throughout the winter.

The deal was similar to those signed by Lance Lynn and Mike Moustakas, both of whom, like Holland, turned down a qualifying offer from their former teams. Holland also turned down a 3 year, $52M contract by the Rockies that eventually went to Wade Davis. At the time, Holland believed he could get either more money or more years.

Holland was coming off a season that had mixed results. Before August, Holland sported a 1-1 record with 33 saves in 34 opportunities; he had a 1.64 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and 12.05 K/9. The Rockies were 37-3 in games he pitched. In August through the end of the season, he went 2-5 with 8 saves in 11 opportunities; he also had a 7.58 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, and 9.47 K/9. He capped off the season by allowing 2 runs on 3 hits and a walk in the NL Wild Card loss for the Rockies.

(For more on Holland, check this )

I did projections for Holland last year and I showed him going 3-3 with 30 saves in 55 innings; I also showed a 2.86 ERA, 3.04 FIP, 1.15 WHIP, 10.44 K/9 and 1.4 WAR. At the time, I was worried about the low inning total, but it makes sense because he’s starting this season at Palm Beach to get into game shape. The WAR is a little troublesome since elite closers are closer to 2.0 WAR per season; last year, Kenley Jansen, Craig Kimbrel, Roberto Osuna, Corey Knebel, and Felipe Rivero all had WARs over 2.0.

The really curious thing about Holland is what his market will be like next season. There are 6 other closers hitting the market: Zach Britton, Cody Allen, Craig Kimbrel, Brad Ziegler, Kelvin Herrera, and Jeurys Familia. Of that list, Kimbrel is the elite target and teams might be more interested in Britton and Allen over Holland. I’d be willing to bet that Holland will not receive another 3 yr, $52M offer after the season, unless he pitches at that elite level.

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