It’s no secret that the Cincinnati Reds have been scouring the bargain bins for patchwork pitching options, the hope being to bring in a veteran on an inexpensive deal and have him return to his previously solid form. That’s how they landed Drew Storen last week, for instance, and it’s also why they still have interest in Greg Holland, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.
As Heyman relays, Holland is seeking "an unusual two-year deal with a one-year opt-out," and the Reds are among a handful of teams that have interest in the former Kansas City Royals closer. That’s not to say the Reds - or any other team, really - has offered him such a deal, since a) that would put much more risk on the team than on the player, and b) if someone had offered him such a deal, he obviously wouldn’t remain unsigned. Still, interest is interest, and there are a few compelling reasons why a deal of some sort with Holland might make sense for the Reds.
From 2011 through 2014, Holland was virtually unhittable, posting an absurd 220 ERA+ and 1.92 FIP in 246 appearances, striking out 12.6 batters per 9 innings and racking up 113 saves during that time. During that successful stint, he featured a fastball/slider mix that was electric, his fastball repeatedly averaging around 96 mph while his slider’s average velocity topped out at 87.1 mph during the 2013 campaign. Unfortunately, a serious fastball dip hit him in 2015 (its average velocity plummeting some 2.5 mph), and with it came an increased use of his slider and curveball. And, wouldn’t you know, subsequent elbow issues led him to eventual Tommy John surgery, from which he’s still trying to work his way back.
During a November workout, that velocity was still gone, and that’s a huge reason why Holland remains unsigned to any deal, much less one as player-friendly as the one he seeks. With Storen in the fold, the Reds have a former closer looking to recoup his value already in-line for high leverage innings, which means adding Holland on any sort of player-friendly, lucrative deal may not be as wise as it once sounded, but if his market continues to crater it still might make sense to bring him in on a bargain. I doubt the Reds will get him (because I doubt that situation fully develops), but it’s a good sign to see them still watching, just in case.
In other news, the New York Mets and pitcher Zack Wheeler avoided arbitration yesterday, settling on $800K for the talented righty for the 2017 season. What’s that have to do with the Reds? Well, many ‘fans’ ripped the Reds for balking on a 2015 trade deadline deal with the Mets that would’ve brought Wheeler to Cincinnati in exchange for Jay Bruce, but the Reds didn’t like what they saw with Wheeler’s medical reports. Wheeler’s obviously talented, but as Heyman noted, he hasn’t pitched since 2014, and he’s already arb-eligible while still not fully healthy.
Speaking of injured pitchers the Reds opted not to trade for, Seattle Mariners prospect Luiz Gohara was shipped to the Atlanta Braves yesterday, and he was reportedly the centerpiece of the failed Zack Cozart deal from this past summer’s trade deadline. FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal dug deeper into why Gohara, who is quite well regarded, was traded after such a solid 2016, and it turns out the Reds had serious questions about Gohara’s throwing shoulder at that point, too. Obviously, he’s another hard throwing talent, but something the Reds saw seemed to scare them off, which will make his ascent through the Atlanta system that much more intriguing to follow.
Another tidbit on an injured pitcher related to the Reds: Jon Moscot, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery himself, is doing a publicity tour with Team Israel in the leadup to the World Baseball Classic, as The Enquirer’s C. Trent Rosecrans noted earlier this week.
On the "healthy and toolsy future of the Reds" front, Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper answered a question about the highest ceiling players in the Cincinnati farm system - a follow up to their recently released organizational Top 10 overall prospect list - and it provides some great perspective and insight both into the system’s top talent and the way they weight their rankings with other criteria. It’ll also make you seriously want to follow Taylor Trammell’s development, (hint hint).
SI.com’s Jay Jaffe took a break from the awesome work he does in Hall of Fame leadup to grade the Reds’ offseason so far. It’s both thorough and accurate, and while not damning, it’s pretty spot on with the final grade.
Finally, former Red Dontrelle Willis has a birthday today, so go wish ol' D-Train a happy one on your Twitter machines.