All-Star closer returned from elbow surgery to tie for NL lead in saves
By Daniel Kramer
Rockies closer Greg Holland, who enjoyed a remarkable comeback season in 2017, will not exercise the player option on the contract he signed in January and will hit the free-agent market, according to MLB Network's Jon Heyman.
Holland, 31, who could be on a shortlist for the National League Comeback Player of the Year Award in his first season back from Tommy John surgery, was a focal figure in the Rockies' return to the postseason for the first time since 2009. He tied the franchise record with 41 saves, which also tied Kenley Jansen for the most in the NL in '17, and Holland was an All-Star for the third time in his career. He finished the year with a 3.61 ERA and recorded 23 straight saves to start the year, winning NL Reliever of the Month honors for April and May.
Signed just weeks before Spring Training to an incentives-laden deal -- nearly all of which he fulfilled -- Holland will earn a $1 million buyout after collecting $15 million last year -- $9 million of which were earned through incentives for games played and finished. He fortified a Rockies bullpen that the year prior ranked last in the big leagues with a 5.13 ERA, and he played a large part in helping Colorado to keep pace in the playoff hunt all season.
The Rockies signed Holland with risk, as the right-hander hadn't pitched in an MLB game in 18 months after undergoing elbow surgery. They were one of a handful of suitors, but the chance to reunite with pitching coach Steve Foster, who was a part of the Royals' coaching staff when Holland compiled a pair of All-Star seasons, was a significant pull, as well as the promising Rockies' lineup.
"I thought we had a playoff-caliber roster, but that doesn't always translate when you have good players," Holland said after the Rockies' clinched the second NL Wild Card. "So I think the chemistry and the meshing that this team has done has been absolutely incredible."
"This has been a best-case scenario for me signing with a team," Holland added.
Holland hits free agency a year after the relief market set records for the three richest contracts for closers, paced by Aroldis Chapman, Jansen and Mark Melancon. Holland figures to net a multiyear deal on the free-agent market, and Heyman cites executives speculating a potential contract in the neighborhood of the four-year, $62 million deal Melancon signed with the Giants.
Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.