Chicago Cubs Sign Righty Reliever Jonathan Holder

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Chicago Cubs Sign Righty Reliever Jonathan Holder

Chicago Cubs

Whoa, it’s a free agent signing for the Chicago Cubs! That’s wild.

The Cubs today signed another intriguing, reclamation reliever, inking 27-year-old righty Jonathan Holder to a one-year deal. Gordon Wittenmyer reports it is for $750,000. (You may see reports referring to the deal as “non-guaranteed,” though that’s standard for arbitration-level signings. It just means that, like a player who received his contract via arbitration, he can be released in Spring Training with 30 days or 45 days termination pay. The point here is that he’s getting a big league deal, is on the 40-man roster and all that, but it’s not quite like he’s certain to win a job in the bullpen. Per FanGraphs, he does have one option year left, so that’s nice. I’m kinda getting away from myself in this parenthetical, though, and I should return to the rest of the post.)

You know the drill by now on a signing like this, as it’s the type they’ve had so much success with the last couple years. First, the up front stats on Holder, who’d had a lot of success out of the Yankees bullpen in 2017 and 2018:

(via FanGraphs)

Holder was quietly a stud those years, but obviously fell off in the results department in 2019, and then in the peripheral department in 2020. It seems like he may have been really unlucky in 2019, and then you’ve got only the small sample in 2020 (his numbers were wrecked mostly by three rough outings at the end of the year), but then again, the Yankees did non-tender him rather than risk about $1 million on salary. So clearly they were ready to move on.

As Bryan points out, at a surface level, it’s not hard to see why the Cubs jumped on Holder:

The results, obviously, were terrible for Holder in 2020. But when you have elite spin rates, the Cubs would love to get you in the house and work with the clay. And pitchers like Holder, if they’ve been paying attention, probably love the idea of joining the Cubs.

Holder has a wide pitch mix, with a 92 mph four-seamer, as well as a changeup, cutter, curveball, and slider. At a first glance, it looks like something went very wrong with his slider in 2020, which had been a wipeout pitch for him previously, but took on a very different (and dramatically less effective) shape in 2020.

Holder joins Robert Stock (waiver claim) as the reclamation relievers of the offseason so far for the Cubs.

More on Holder soon.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.