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Cubs most logical destination for Holland

MLB.com

Among the high-profile Major Leaguers still unsigned is reliever Greg Holland, who's coming off a successful 2017 campaign as the Rockies' closer.

Holland's landing spot may be guessing game, but Cubs seem a strong fit
With the Rockies well out of Holland's picture, having signed free agent Wade Davis, could Davis' former team -- now seemingly in need of a closer -- be the most logical fit for Holland? MLB Network insider Jon Heyman believes so.

Among the high-profile Major Leaguers still unsigned is reliever Greg Holland, who's coming off a successful 2017 campaign as the Rockies' closer.

Holland's landing spot may be guessing game, but Cubs seem a strong fit
With the Rockies well out of Holland's picture, having signed free agent Wade Davis, could Davis' former team -- now seemingly in need of a closer -- be the most logical fit for Holland? MLB Network insider Jon Heyman believes so.

In a post for FanRag Sports, Heyman admits that Holland's market remains a "guessing game" given the multitude of clubs with needs at closer. The Cubs' plan, for now, is to have Brandon Morrow handle the ninth inning for the revamped bullpen, which also includes new additions Steve Cishek, Dario Alvarez, Cory Mazzoni and Randy Rosario. However, MLB.com's Carrie Muskat reported in January that the Cubs were likely done adding relievers, particularly with young pitchers in the system that could contribute such as Dillon Maples and Rob Zastryzny. Chicago also signed the market's top starter, Yu Darvish, to a $126 million deal last weekend, thus potentially limiting their financial flexibility.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein shouldn't be counted out, though, when it comes to creative ways to land pieces he believes are essential. Davis delivered 32 saves last year, and Holland led the National League with 41. Morrow enjoyed a nice bounce-back year with the Dodgers, and pitched in all but one of their 15 postseason games. But he did so as a setup man to Kenley Jansen -- not as the closer.

For a Cubs club that has reached the NL Championship Series three straight years and showing no signs or plans of regression, fortifying the ninth inning may be a chief objective, as Heyman notes.

Other clubs Heyman predicts as possibilities include the Cardinals (to whom Holland has been strongly linked), Phillies (widely viewed as a potential dark horse in the NL), Angels (who have re-tooled their roster but still have a void at closer) and Astros (who retained Ken Giles, their 34-save closer from '17). -- This report was first posted on Feb. 15.

Cardinals a fit for Holland?
The premier free agent reliever on the market is still looking for a new home, and the Cardinals are still in the market for bullpen help.

:: Free agent buzz ::

It's possible Holland's resurgence in 2017 could help him land the closer role in St. Louis were the two sides to link up, MLB.com's Richard Justice speculates.

The Cardinals brought in right-hander Luke Gregerson this offseason on a two-year deal, and while he has closed games for the Astros in 2015 and 2016, Holland racked up 41 saves for Colorado last year.

St. Louis is trying to replace former flamethrower Trevor Rosenthal, and Holland's 11 strikeouts per nine innings and 3.61 ERA last season bested Gregerson's numbers (10.3 K/9, 4.57 ERA).

Holland reportedly turned down a three-year offer to return to the Rockies before they signed Wade Davis. The 32-year-old is two years removed from Tommy John surgery, so he comes with some risk, but he -- paired with Gregerson and young fireballer Alex Reyes, who is recovering from Tommy John himself -- could form a formidable trio in the back end of the Cardinals' bullpen. -- This report was first posted on Feb. 14.

Return to Rockies not in cards for Holland
A return to Colorado seemed to be a logical fit for Holland this offseason, but earlier this month, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported that Holland rejected the Rockies' offer of three years and $52 million. That's the same offer that Wade Davis eventually accepted to become Colorado's new closer, which gives him the highest average annual value of any reliever.

Hot Stove Tracker

The free-agent landscape continues to move at a glacial pace, particularly at the top with marquee players like Holland. The Rockies represented the most obvious fit, given Holland's close relationship with pitching coach Steve Foster and the level of comfort he felt with the club in his return from Tommy John surgery. With Colorado seemingly out of the picture, there is no clear alternate front-runner for the former All-Star -- particularly one who would offer the historic deal Holland is looking for. The Cardinals could be a fit as they look to fill out the back end of their bullpen, while the rival Cubs could look to replace Davis with his former Royals teammate.

Employing his effective fastball-slider combination, the 31-year-old Holland paced the National League with 41 saves in 2017 while posting a 3.61 ERA over 57 1/3 innings. The righty was an integral part of Kansas City's back-to-back American League pennant winners in 2014-15, teaming with Davis and Kelvin Herrera to form one of the most dominant bullpens in recent memory. -- This report was first posted on Feb. 7.

Greg Holland