Regardless of whether Joakim Soria is able to rest and rehab his damaged ulnar collateral ligament or undergoes season-ending Tommy John surgery the Royals will need a new closer.
Free agent signing Jonathan Broxton is the obvious replacement because of his previous experience in the role, but Greg Holland was great as a rookie setup man last season and manager Ned Yost hasn’t decided yet who will get the nod to replace Soria.
Or at least that’s what Yost told Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star:
They’ve both looked great this spring. We’ll give it time to play out. We could very well use both of them in that situation. I’ve got the confidence to use both of them. I think they both can handle it.
Managers often say they’re willing to use multiple pitchers in the closer role, but rarely do they actually go through with those plans for more than a few save opportunities.
Kansas City paid $4 million to see if Broxton can rediscover his once-dominant raw stuff and pitching coach Dave Eiland told Dutton that the former Dodgers closer has been very impressive while throwing in the mid-90s. Of course, Holland was dominant last year, logging 60 innings with a 1.80 ERA and 74/19 K/BB ratio while averaging 94.9 miles per hour with his fastball.
The Rangers will not sign free agent reliever Seung-hwan Oh after all. Reports from MLB.com’s TR Sullivan indicate that negotiations were brought to a halt after a physical issue was found with the pitcher. While the specifics have yet to be released, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News says the issue was revealed on an MRI of the right-hander’s arm.
Oh was thought to be in talks with the Rangers last week, though a deal was never officially announced by the club. The 35-year-old righty is fresh off of a two-year run with the Cardinals, during which he posted a cumulative 39 saves, 2.85 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 10.2 SO/9 in 139 innings. He struggled with consistency in his sophomore season, however, and finished 2017 with a disappointing 4.10 ERA and 4.44 FIP in 62 appearances for the team.
While Oh hasn’t experienced any setbacks with his arm in the majors so far, he does have a history of prior injuries during his time in KBO. He sustained a shoulder injury in 2009 and underwent surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow in 2010. It’s possible that the Rangers saw an entirely different problem on the MRI, but clearly it was enough to give them strong reservations about inking the righty to a $2.75+ million deal. It’s still possible that another of Oh’s suitors will offer him a contract prior to Opening Day; the Giants were rumored to be interested in the veteran reliever, among other teams, though their recent acquisition of lefty reliever Tony Watson will likely take them out of the running now.