According to reports by both veteran Washington Post columnist Thomas Boswell and his WaPost colleague, Barry Svrluga, at one point last winter the Washington Nationals had a deal in place to bring reliever Greg Holland to the nation’s capital.
“Ownership balked at the money needed to sign [Scott] Boras client Greg Holland, who was risky after elbow surgery and not due back until June,” Boswell wrote in a late-May look at where the roster stood at that point.
“[T]he baseball side of the franchise wanted Holland, risk and all,” Boswell noted, “... and thought a deal probably could have gotten done.”
Holland was just one of several relievers the Nationals tried to land last winter in what was ultimately a fruitless search, and when the bullpen, predictably, was an issue early in the season, the WaPost’s Svrluga lamented what could have been if Washington GM Mike Rizzo had been able to sign Holland and complete a rumored deal for White Sox’ right-hander David Robertson.
“[A]ccording to people with knowledge of the situation,” Svrluga wrote in early June, “...the Nats don’t have David Robertson of the White Sox because, when an offseason trade was in place, the club’s ownership balked.
“The Nats don’t have Greg Holland, the former closer for the Royals coming back from injury, because when a deal was in place, the Lerner family wouldn’t approve it...”
Holland ended up signing a 1-year/$7M deal with the Colorado Rockies which included a mutual option for $10M in 2018, which increased to $15M when he met appearance (50 games) and games finished (30) marks in a big season for the 32-year-old righty in which he put up a 3.61 ERA, 3.72 FIP, 4.08 BB/9, 10.99 K/9, and 41 saves. He turned the $15M option down and is now a free agent.
If Rizzo and Co. in the Nats’ front office were to try to sign Holland again this winter, MLBTraderumors.com projects it will take something in the neighborhood of a four-year/$50M deal. FanRag.com’s Jon Heyman predicts the right-hander will get a four-year/$64M deal from one of the teams in the market for a closer.
Rizzo’s back looking for bullpen help again this winter, but with Sean Doolittle likely to return to closing out games, and Ryan Madson back to work the eighth, spending the sort of money Holland is set to get seems unlikely.
Holland’s big season, which came following a season-plus spent recovering from Tommy John surgery earned him the NL Comeback Player award, which is voted on by 30 beat writers covering the majors for MLB.com.
That surprised some, including the WaPost’s Svrluga, who thought Nationals’ first baseman Ryan Zimmerman might take that award home.
Thought Ryan Zimmerman would win in NL. Went from .218/.272/.370 in ‘16 to .303/.358/.573 in ‘17. https://t.co/TETyxR7GAu— Barry Svrluga (@barrysvrluga) December 1, 2017
Former teammates Greg Holland of the @Rockies & Mike Moustakas of the @Royals have been voted the 2017 NL & AL Comeback Players of the Year, respectively. Holland tied for the NL lead with 41 saves in first year with Colorado; Moose hit career-best & KC franchise record 38 HR.— MLB Communications (@MLB_PR) December 1, 2017
Zimmerman, as Svrluga mentioned, overcame injuries and answered some doubts after he put up a .218/.272/.370 line, 18 doubles, and 15 home runs over 115 games and 427 plate appearances in a -1.3 fWAR campaign in 2016.
The Nationals’ 33-year-old first baseman put up a .303/.358/.573 line, 33 doubles, and a career-high 36 home runs over 144 games and 576 PAs in a 3.3 fWAR season in 2017.
“Last year he was hurt, starting out hurt,” now-former Nats’ skipper Dusty Baker told reporters when asked about Zimmerman’s bounce-back season in late September.
“I’ve always been told if you start the year off hurt, it makes for a long year, you’re playing catch-up the whole year, and you’re never really caught up, and there were people telling me to bench him and stuff, and I knew this guy was a long ways from through and he has some good years ahead of him.
“It couldn’t happen to a finer guy,” Baker added, “cause he doesn’t alibi or complain or anything, he just plays ball and not only that he’s one of your best citizens as well as your best players.”
Though he didn’t win the officially recognized Comeback Player of the Year award this season, Zimmerman was named the MLBPA’s NL Comeback Player of the Year for 2017, as voted on by his peers, which is something that’s always been important to the 2005 1st Round pick.
“Any time you can win an award that’s voted on by your peers and given to you at this level, it’s a huge honor,” Zimmerman said.
“It was just good to be healthy and be able to go out there every day and play.”