So far the Nationals have been linked to a number of high-profile players through various Hot Stove rumors, veteran starting pitcher Jake Arrieta chief among them.
Though they’ve rarely acted, the Nats have effectively rebuilt their playoff-caliber bench in a series of smaller signings, inking first baseman Matt Adams to a one-year deal worth $4 million, and re-signing infielder/outfielder Howie Kendrick to a two-year, $7-plus million deal.
A name Washington is newly linked to in this slow-developing market: free agent closer Greg Holland. The 32-year-old has received plenty of attention as the top reliever available, but, as mentioned, the market is… sluggish, to say the least.
Here’s Jon Heyman of FanRagSports:
One rival GM predicted that the Nats would be the team to wind up with Greg Holland, likening it to their late signings in past years of other Scott Boras clients, naming Rafael Soriano and Matt Wieters.
The Nationals don’t have any glaring holes in their rotation. They’ve already renewed their 2017-season-ending one-two-three punch of Ian Kintzler, Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle for another year.
Holland is a top-flight closer with a proven track record in the postseason, who bounced back from 2015 Tommy John surgery with 41 saves in 45 opportunities and a 3.61 ERA in 2017. After declining his $15 million player options with the Rockies, he’s sure to command a high salary.
Around this time in 2017, Holland was a reported target of the baseball side of the Nationals organization, with Thomas Boswell writing that, at one point, there was even a deal in place, but ownership — wary of the luxury tax — would not approve it.
Acquiring a reliever of Holland’s caliber now would be viewed as an embarrassment of riches for the Nationals, the type of move that could elevate a club to the next level come postseason. In the October pressure cooker, you can’t reach for what you don’t have.