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Brewers Have Scouted Free Agent Reliever Greg Holland

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The Brewers recently attended a workout for Greg Holland. Could he fit into the team’s plans?

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Cleveland Indians Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

As the Winter Meetings come to a close today, the Brewers have one big move on their resume (the Tyler Thornburg trade) and a smaller move (selection and trade of Caleb Smith in the Rule 5 draft). That’s all they will likely do during these meetings, but it doesn’t mean that they weren’t active on other fronts.

One note that did come out this morning was in relation to free agent reliever Greg Holland. Tom Haudricourt tweeted this morning that the Brewers did scout Greg Holland at his showcase last month, but GM David Stearns did not mention if negotiations had taken place. Since the Brewers did scout his workout, there is some level of interest there, though how much remains to be seen.

Holland is coming off of Tommy John surgery, which kept him out for the end of the 2015 season and the entire 2016 season. Prior to the surgery, he was a lights-out closer for the Royals, recording a 2.45 career ERA and 145 saves for them. His top seasons of 2013 and 2014 earned him All-Star appearances, as well as both Cy Young Award votes (9th both years) and MVP votes (15th and 16th, respectively). When he’s in top form, he’s one of the best relievers out there.

The question right now is if he can get back to that top form. At his showcase last month, Holland did demonstrate that he is healthy, but his fastball has seen a noticeable decrease, going from its peak of 96 MPH down to the low 90s. It’s possible that his fastball could get back to where it was as his arm continues to build back up its strength, so the low velocity is a concern but not a deal-breaker. His second pitch is a slider that is used as often as his fastball (46.8% to 46.7% in 2015), and he also has a curveball that sees occasional use.

Could the Brewers take a flyer on him with a one-year deal? While he seems to fit the mold of a reliever to take a chance on, it’s likely that he will be outside the Brewers price range. Holland is a Scott Boras client, meaning that there will be a premium on him wherever he goes. Boras has said that while Holland is open to a non-closing role, he should be considered as a “High-Leverage Premium Arm”. In addition, “more than half of the teams in the league” has reached out to Holland already, with the Red Sox and Nationals among the lead suitors. Finally, Boras is seeking a two-year deal for Holland, with MLB Trade Rumors predicting a two-year/$18 million deal.

While the Brewers have shown interest in Greg Holland, it likely won’t be much more than that. Though Holland would be a good fit for the team, several other teams are interested in him, including teams where he would be able to compete right away. In addition, while the Brewers could afford him, a deal is likely outside of what they are willing to pay right now. If the Brewers do sign him, he could be a good trade candidate if he does regain his form, but it would be a costly gamble for the team.

Statistics courtesy of FanGraphs