breaking: #STLCards are moving close to a deal with closer greg holland. would fuill their one hole. no details known yet.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) March 29, 2018
Yep, before I even clicked publish, the confirmation is rolling in:
The Cardinals have a deal with Greg Holland pending a physical, source confirms.
— Mark Saxon (@markasaxon) March 29, 2018
John Mozeliak said there’s a pending physical with Greg Holland. So it looks like as long as that goes well, the Cardinals will have a new closer.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) March 29, 2018
According to multiple reports on Twitter, the St. Louis Cardinals have a deal with free agent closer Greg Holland, the last remaining big-time free agent, on Opening Day (UPDATE: One year, $14M, see below). Funny how that timing worked out.
A few days ago, I wrote that Holland to the Cardinals made all the sense in the world, and here’s what I had to say at the time:
The St. Louis Cardinals did a lot to improve this winter, adding to their outfield (Marcell Ozuna), starting staff (Miles Mikolas), and bullpen (Luke Gregerson), among some other complementary moves. But despite the overall improvements, most of us around here feel they stopped just short of fully re-stocking.
Last season, for example, the Cardinals’ bullpen ranked 12th in WAR (4.4 according to FanGraphs), but that group has since lost Trevor Rosenthal (he was released this offseason after undergoing Tommy John surgery) and the 1.6 WAR he brought to the table, as well as Seung Hwan Oh (who’s since signed with the Blue Jays), among others.
On top of that, their pen’s big offseason addition, Luke Gregerson, is going to start the season on the disabled list, where he’ll be joined by starter Adam Wainwright. Although Wainwright was probably not going to be pitching out of the pen for any serious length of time, Jack Flaherty is taking his spot in the rotation, which means he probably won’t be used out of the bullpen the way the Cardinals like to do with many of their young arms. And, of course, Alex Reyes, the Cardinals top prospect who’ll likely also pitch out of the pen this season (when healthy), will also be out until at least May 1 (Tommy John surgery).
Needless to say, the Cardinals needed bullpen help from the start of the offseason, and that need has only grown since then.
So, given the Cardinals’ needs and the fact they have Marcell Ozuna under team control for just two more years and a roster with some aging former stars (Yadier Molina, Wainwright, Matt Carpenter, etc.), now sure seemed like the right time to indulge, and indulge they did.
In terms of NL Central impact, it’s hard to say. Obviously, this move strengthens the Cardinals bullpen significantly, but it was in dire need of strengthening. Indeed, for the first half of the season, until some of their injured pitchers come back, the Cardinals bullpen will still not be too devastating, even with Holland in the fold. Once they get Gregerson and Reyes back (let alone whatever young arms they bring up (or move out of the rotation and into the pen when Wainwright returns)), however, it’ll be a definite strength.
In the end, this won’t be enough to seriously move the needle on any of the playoff odds we checked in on just yesterday, but it is a solid pickup for the Cardinals. And if the deal is team friendly enough, all the better for them.
Speaking of which, as soon as details of the agreement shake out, I’ll update this post (one-year, $14M see below). For more on Greg Holland, the pitcher, check out my free agent profile on him from back in November.
Immediate Update: The deal is expected to be short-term in length (no surprises there), and Holland may not be ready just yet?
Greg Holland will have a physical tonight to finish deal with #stlcards. If he passes they have an agreement on short-term deal, however figuring where he goes to be ready, to get in innings is not yet clear. He has been throwing.
— Derrick Goold (@dgoold) March 29, 2018
UPDATE: One-year and $14 million
holland and STLCards have a deal now. $14M.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) March 29, 2018
That is one cheap deal for the Cardinals, and a bit of bad luck for Holland, who turned down the $17.4M qualifying offer back in November and will now earn less. Speaking of which, that reminds me: with the signing, the Cardinals will forfeit a draft pick and some IFA bonus pool money. So while it only cost them $14M, the overall price is a little higher.
Then again, if they’re not in the race come July, they can always flip Holland and recoup some of that personnel loss (while also decoupling Holland from draft pick compensation next offseason, when he’ll try again to get a big, multi-year deal).