The Washington Nationals have signed reliever Greg Holland.
Holland posted a ghastly 7.92 ERA over 32 appearances with the Cardinals while watching his strikeout rate go way down, his walk rate going way up and his hits per nine innings almost doubling. It’s just been a nightmare season for a guy who, last year in Colorado, led the league with 41 saves and 58 games finished while posting a 3.61 ERA and striking out 11 batters per nine. Holland rejected the Rockies’ qualifying offer, bypassing $17.4 million salary for 2018. As a result, many felt the Cardinals got a relative bargain on him. That did not, of course, turn out to be the case.
The Nats are counting on a change of scenery to bolster their bullpen which has missed closer Sean Doolittle since he went down with a stress reaction in his foot a month ago. The pen is also shorthanded because the Nats traded two relievers recently because they didn’t like the cut of their jibs or whatever. Specifically, Shawn Kelley, traded after he had a little mound tantrum and glared at the manager, and Brandon Kintzler, traded for allegedly snitchin’ to the press.
The Nats currently trail the division-leading Phillies by 5.5 games.
An interesting tidbit today from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, who noted that ongoing talks between agent Scott Boras and the Padres have focused more on starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel than slugger Bryce Harper. Earlier this week, there were conflicting reports on the Padres’ level of interest in Harper — MLB Network’s Jon Heyman heard the club had not ruled out another big signing after getting Manny Machado, while Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune talked to multiple sources who believed otherwise — but any agreement between the two is looking unlikelier by the day.
As for Keuchel, Rosenthal cautions that a potential deal is still a “longshot,” especially as the team has other, cheaper options in mind. The 31-year-old southpaw turned down a qualifying offer from the Astros last year and is likely angling for something north of the five-year, $90 million contract extension he rejected from the club in 2016. He’s coming off of another solid performance in Houston, where he went 12-11 in 34 starts with a 3.74 ERA, 2.6 BB/9, 6.7 SO/9, and 3.6 fWAR through 204 2/3 innings in 2018.
While Keuchel has failed to garner substantial interest around the league this offseason, Heyman points out that the Phillies are looking to establish themselves as frontrunners for the lefty — and they’re far less likely to have hang-ups about his asking price, too.