Greg Holland Joins the Rockies

Look, it would be strange if the Rockies¬†didn’t have a weird offseason, right? It’s the Rockies. Weird has been the modus operandi with this franchise for all of recent memory. Even their run to the World Series was unexpected and strange and involved Matt Holliday perhaps not really touching home plate at one crucial point. If the Rockies went out and made a bunch of coherent moves, it might be cause for concern.

Anyways, after signing Ian Desmond to play first base and throwing a lot of money at perfectly pedestrian lefty reliever Mike Dunn, Colorado is bringing in right-hander Greg Holland, because why not? As you likely know, Holland is good at baseball. He was the closer for the Royals during their run of success, and when he was healthy, he was excellent. Holland is the owner of a career 2.35 DRA and has struck out just over a quarter of all the batters he’s faced. When he was healthy, he was one of the best in the business.

“When he was healthy” is the important phrase here. Holland missed all of last year and part of 2015 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. This makes him going to Colorado interesting, because Coors Field is not exactly the first place that comes to mind when one thinks “rebound.” Yet here Holland goes, to ply his craft for the Rockies. He’s heading there on a one-year deal, per Jeff Passan, with a vesting option for a second year. Holland will make ¬†$7 million this year, and could potentially earn as much as $14 million through incentives. The vesting option will presumably depend either on raw innings pitched or the number of games Holland finishes.

Our own Eric Longenhagen saw Holland’s showcase back in November and said his fastball sat at 88-91 mph. That’s a far cry from the mid-90s heat he brought pre-surgery, and it will be interesting to see if Holland can operate without it while pitching at Coors. If he can, then the Rockies have a very interesting bullpen. The combination of Holland and Adam Ottavino, as well as a potential bounce-back year from Jake McGee, make for a potentially solid back end, with Dunn, Jason Motte and potentially Carlos Estevez throwing the middle innings.

If Holland isn’t effective, though, it’s a sunk cost, and they’ll need to turn to other options to fill that void. There’s almost no such thing as a bad one-year deal, but with the Rockies looking to step into contention this year, it’ll certainly help to have an effective Holland. The Rockies clearly have faith in their capacity to revive Holland’s career at Coors Field, but one has to wonder if Holland’s availability is the result of other teams (like the Nationals, who are clearly in the market for late-inning relief) opting to pass on Holland’s surgically repaired arm.

Colorado’s offense, which was almost exactly league average last year, has only gotten better this offseason and will benefit from full seasons of David Dahl and Trevor Story. I’ve written about how their rotation is sneaky good. The Rockies may or may not be contending for a Wild Card this year. It’ll take a few things breaking the right way, and the Desmond-at-first experiment has the potential to backfire in a big way. But the Rockies are incredibly interesting, I’ll give them that. And yes, they’ll probably be a bit weird, too. But it’s the Rockies, and without a little weird, it just wouldn’t be right.





Nick is a columnist at FanGraphs, and has written previously for Baseball Prospectus and Beyond the Box Score. Yes, he hates your favorite team, just like Joe Buck. You can follow him on Twitter at @StelliniTweets, and can contact him at stellinin1 at gmail.

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Yeah, I mean, I guess? I kinda admire their exuberance in going for it. At least this one only costs money and not a draft pick like Desmond.